The Tower of London
Guarded by famous Beefeaters, this is where the Crown Jewels are held. Learn of the legend of the Ravens, a place of bloody execution and famous prisoners this is a truly beautiful piece of history.
Twelve years after he had dispatched King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, the victorious William the Conqueror decided to build a massive fortress on the banks of the River Thames.
The building that began in 1078 was added to throughout the centuries by successive monarchs, culminating in the imposing and formidable castle we all know today as the Tower of London.
The Tower is actually a complex of different buildings and has served through most of its existence as a royal palace as well as a fortress and a prison. Some of its illustrious inmates include Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Thomas More and, for a period Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth I. Notoriously, it was also a place of execution - two of Henry VIII’s wives (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) were beheaded here. If you’re enjoying a London self-catering break, you won’t wish to miss this historic site.
The Tower is immense to take in on a single visit, and is probably best approached through two or more trips. Taking a London self-catering break will give you a bit more time, but some must-see features of the tower include the following.
Perhaps the most famous aspect of the building is the original structure built by William the Conqueror – the imposing square castle known as the White Tower. Here you can see Henry VIII’s armour, lift a musket, pull on a gauntlet, handle a sword and draw a bow and arrow – you’ll be surrounded by an arsenal of weapons stretching back through ten centuries. Of course, you’ll want to feast your eyes on the priceless Crown Jewels, kept under armed guard at all times. The stunning Coronation Regalia alone has 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and five rubies. In total, the Crown Jewels comprise 23,578 priceless gems. There are many other features to take in if you have the time, from Tower Green, which contains a memorial to all the people executed there, to the magnificent interiors of the Medieval Palace and the highly informative interactive Prisoners Exhibition, with displays hosted in several of the towers where the unfortunate detainees were actually held.
London self catering holidays offer a treasure trove of the city’s rich cultural heritage, but few are as famous or as imposing as the Tower of London. Admission for adults is £17.00 (£15.00 online), £9.50 for children and £14.50 for full-time students and senior citizens (£9.00 and £13.50 respectively online). Tower Hill is the nearest underground station and Fenchurch Street or London Bridge the nearest mainline stations. Bus routes 15, 42, 78, 100, and RV1 all pass the tower and you could even take a river boat from Charing Cross, Westminster or Greenwich. Why not savour the Tower now with a London self catering holiday?
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