Westminster

Posted on: March 23, 2018, by :

Welcome to Westminster

Westminster

Westminster in Central London has the highest concentration of tourist attractions and historic landmarks in London. Home to iconic symbols of London such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Downing Street, it is probably the area most tourists will visit.

Historically, the area has always been the centre of Her Majesty the Queen’s government with parliament held at Palace of Westminster. The settlement around the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey actually grew as a service area for both of these iconic buildings. Now most government ministries are located in Whitehall and Downing Street is the home of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Chief Whip.

The current Palace of Westminster was designed by Victorian architect, Charles Barry. The Gothic style of the building, towering above the sedate Georgian terraces of Westminster captured the public imagination and went on to influence other building styles during the era. There are 11 courtyard, 100 stairwells and 1100 offices inside and over three miles of passages.

There are three towers and the most famous is the Clock Tower housing Big Ben. Big Ben is the name of the largest bell within the tower but now the name is used to refer to both the tower and the bell. The tower is now officially known as the Elizabeth Tower since 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen Elizabeth II. Big Ben is a British icon and often used as the establishing shot in movies and tv programmes to depict London. In August 2017, Big Ben was silenced for a four year renovation project, only to chime for special occasions such as New Years Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

Westminster Abbey lies across the Palace of Westminster and has been the site of worship for more than a thousand years. Since 1066, the Abbey has been the church where kings’ and queens’ coronations took place. The current abbey was established by Henry III in 1245. It contains paintings, textiles and artefacts and is the place where significant people in British history are buried. Queen Elizabeth I, Charles Dickens and Sir Issac Newton are amongst those buried here.

Of all the graves in the abbey, no one is allowed to step on the grave of the unknown soldier, as a mark of respect for countless men and women who sacrificed their lives for the nation. Even Kate Middleton had to walk around the grave during her walk down to aisle to marry Prince William in 2012.

Westminster is also home to the delightful St. James Park which is next to Buckingham Palace. The palace is the residence and administrative centre for the reigning monarch. The palace has 775 rooms and in its long history had received many illustrious guests including a young, seven year old Mozart, Alfred Lord Tennyson, American presidents including John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela. While it is used for official events and receptions, the palace is opened to the public in summer.