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This Is London. London (England), city, capital of the United Kingdom. London is situated in southeastern England along the Thames River. With a population of about 7 million, this vast metropolis is by far the largest city in Europe, a distinction it has maintained since the 17th century. In the 19th century it was the largest and most influential city in the world, the center of a large and prosperous overseas empire. Although it no longer ranks among the world’s most populous cities, London is still one of the world’s major financial and cultural capitals
British Museum, the national museum of antiquities and, until 1973, the national library of the United Kingdom, located in London. The British Museum was founded in 1753, incorporating the collection of the British physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane; the Harleian Collection, formed by the statesman Robert Harley, 1st earl of Oxford; and the Cottonian Library, organized by the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton. In 1847 the building on Great Russell Street, in the Bloomsbury section of London, was completed. It now houses ten departments and part of the British Library.
Trafalgar Square was built in the 1830s to commemorate the British navy’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The center of the square features a statue of Viscount Horatio Nelson, who died during the battle. The square is a popular gathering place for public meetings.
Buckingham Palace in Westminster is the official London residence of the British sovereign. Its interior, open to the public during August and September while the queen is on vacation, contains many elegantly furnished apartments and noted collections of paintings. The famous changing of the guard takes place outside Buckingham Palace.
Westminster Abbey, a church has been located at Westminster since probably the 8th century. Edward the Confessor rebuilt the abbey in the Norman style during the 11th century. In the 13th century Henry III started building the present abbey. British monarchs have been crowned and buried here since William the Conquerer.
The Tower of London, located on the northern bank of the Thames River, was built in the 11th century. It was used alternately as a fortress, royal residence, and state prison in its early years. Today it is maintained as an arsenal with a garrison, and is open to the public. The well-preserved Norman and medieval structures cover nearly 7 hectares (18 acres).
London’s Tower Bridge spans the Thames River from the Tower of London to Southwark on the south side of the Thames. It was the only movable bridge crossing the Thames when it was completed in 1894. The bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones and built by Sir John Wolfe Barry.
Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, designed by English architect Christopher Wren in 1675, is one of the most famous churches in England. The cathedral is best known for its impressive dome, which is actually two domes—an inner one and a taller outer one. The inner dome is open in the middle so that light can stream into the cathedral.
The Globe Theatre, where dramatist William Shakespeare saw his plays performed 400 years ago, has been rebuilt near its original location on the south bank of the Thames River in London, England. The rebuilt theater opened in 1997 and offers performances of Shakespeare’s plays during the summer. Traditional materials were used in the rebuilding. A thatched roof covers the galleries where the audience sits, and the outer walls are made of lime plaster.
Big Ben, London Big Ben is the great bell in the Clock Tower on the eastern end of the Houses of Parliament. It was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, London’s chief commissioner of works in 1858 when the bell was hung. The clocks in the 98-m (320-ft) Clock Tower have been keeping time since 1859.
The seat of the British government is in London in the Houses of Parliament, officially the New Palace of Westminster. Parliament consists of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The current building was built in the mid-19th century and was designed by British architect Sir Charles Barry.
The Royal Albert Hall, in the Kensington section of London, is one of the city’s principal concert halls. Every summer it is the site of the “Proms,” a series of classical music concerts. The hall was named for Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. The queen laid the hall’s foundation stone in 1868, seven years after his death.
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