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In 1078, William the Conqueror built the first part of the Tower, the White Tower, as a fortress. Over the centuries, other kings and queens extended the Tower and used it as a palace or prison. Prisoners usually arrived by boat and entered the Tower through Traitor's Gate, which faces the river.
The London Dungeon is in an old subterranean prison (that’s what the word Dungeon stands for). The wax museum takes its visitors on a scary journey through England’s history of brutal killings and tortures. When you are in the Dungeon, watch out for creepy creatures - the Dungeon employs actors who are dressed as monsters, ghosts or executers. They hide in dark corners and then suddenly jump out to give you the fright of your life.
The Globe Theatre opened in 1997. It is a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, which burned down in 1613 during a performance of Shakespeare's play Henry VIII. In the Globe Theatre, you can experience what the theatre was like at Shakespeare’s time. The theatre had no roof, there were no electric lights and hardly any decoration.
The London Eye offers a spectacular view over London and its surroundings. With its 135 m height, it is the biggest observation wheel in the world. Each capsule can carry 25 people. So in one day, the 32 capsules of the wheel carry over 15,000 visitors. A flight lasts 30 minutes and you can see up to 40 km in each direction.
On 5 November 1605, some radical Catholics wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But they were not successful. Guards searched the cellars of the Palace and found 36 barrels of gunpowder. Every year on 5 November people commemorate Guy Fawkes Day (or Gunpowder Day) with fireworks and bonfires. In 1834, a fire destroyed most of the palace. Between 1840 and 1888, Sir Charles Barry rebuilt the Palace of Westminster and also added the famous clocktower that everybody knows as Big Ben. Actually, it is only the name of the biggest bell in the clock tower, which rings the hour. Big Ben takes its name from Sir Benjamin Hall, who ordered the casting of the 16 ton bell in 1856.
Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s residence in London. When the queen is in the palace, you can see the Royal Standard on the roof of the palace. If the Queen is not in the palace, you see the Union Jack. Buckingham Palace has 600 rooms, a park, a swimming-pool and even a cinema. The royal family lives in the north wing of the palace.
Trooping the Colour Behind the Horse Guards is Horse Guards Parade. This is the place where the Queen’s birthday parade – Trooping the Colour – takes place every year in June. The Queen’s real birthday is in April, by the way. Her birthday parade is in June, however, because the weather is usually better then.
The building in the background is the National Gallery. It is a famous gallery with lots of old and valuable paintings. The entry to the gallery is free. On New Year’s Eve, Trafalgar Square is a popular meeting place. Fireworks are not allowed in Britain on New Year’s Eve. But at midnight people hug each other, sing Old Lange Syne or swim in the fountains.
Madame Tussaud was born in France where she learnt how to make waxworks. In 1802, she came to England with her collection and travelled around Great Britain and Ireland. In 1835, she finally opened a wax exhibition in London. Her last work was her self-portrait, which is at the entrance of the museum. Madame Tussaud was 89 years old when she died in 1850.
Millennium Bridge is a footbridge over the river Thames. The Millennium Bridge with St Paul’s Cathedral in the backgroundIn the background, you can see St Paul’s Cathedral. Its cupola is very special: go up there with a friend. Ask your friend to put his/her ear against the wall of the cupola. Then go to the other side and whisper against the wall. Your friend will hear every word you whisper, although you are 34 m apart. This is why the cupola of St Paul’s Cathedral is also called Whispering Gallery.
On 2 September 1666, a fire broke out in Pudding Lane, which destroyed three quarters of London in only three days. It was the Great Fire of London. Monument to the Great Fire of LondonBetween 1671 and 1677, the architect Sir Christopher Wren built the monument in remembrance of the Great Fire. The Monument is 61.5 metres high – this is exactly the distance between the moument and the place where the fire broke out in 1666. You can go up a spindal staircase to a platform from where you have a nice view over the City of London.
In the 19th century, London Docklands formed the world's largest port. Ships arrived here with goods from all parts of the world. There were warehouses for tea, silver, ivory and so on. Now the former warehouses are nice (and expensive) homes and offices. The office building Canary Wharf is the highest building in London.
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