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London's Top 10 Attractions

(March 26, 2003)

London By Harrods

Visitors can now enjoy the sights of London in first class on the exclusive open-topped buses sporting the distinctive green and gold livery of Harrods.

Harrods luxury tour offers benefits of comfort and luxury including a guaranteed seat, no waiting time, qualified English speaking live guides, and steward service offering complimentary Harrods shortbread cookies and drinks. 

The two-hour tour follows the most comprehensive route covering the best of London including seven palaces and the most famous must-see sights. Visits include: Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace, Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, Trafalgar Square, St Paul's Cathedral, the Monument, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Piccadilly Circus and St James's Palace. 

With daily departures (except Christmas Day) at 10:30, 13:30 and 16:00 the two-hour tour begins and ends outside Harrods, Knightsbridge.

If you are going to travel across the pond these days, why not visit friendly territory? London, Europe's largest city, is without question one of the world's most exciting places. With 2,000 years of history, this city founded by the Romans has expansive offerings. London offers the visitor outstanding cultural experiences, fun, with a bit of pageantry thrown in. Here are the top ten must-sees in London.

1. Buckingham Palace & Changing Of The Guard

Don't miss the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, which was built as a house for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, and is now the permanent residence of the Queen. The ceremony, which lasts 40 minutes, takes place inside the palace railings; visitors will observe from the outside. The Queen's Guard, accompanied by a band, leaves Wellington Barracks and marches via Birdcage Walk to the palace.

2. Tower of London

The Tower of London, nearly 1,000 years old, has been a castle, a palace and a prison. The Tower of London is a notorious site of beheadings, the celebrated Crown Jewels, and Sir Walter Raleigh's imprisonment before his execution at Westminster. Today, guided tours by Yeoman Warders, also known as 'beefeaters', are available. Don't miss a chance to see the legendary ravens that live within the walls. Charles I ordered that six ravens should always inhabit the Tower. Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Kingdom will fall, just to be safe their wings are clipped.

3. Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge (London Bridge) is without question one of the most famous bridges in the world. Opened in 1894, the bridge was designed to have twin bascules that could be raised allowing tall ships passage up the Thames. To this day the bridge still operates using the original mechanisms. Visitors can ascend the North Tower and walk across a protected walkway offering great views of London and the Thames before descending the South Tower. Don't miss the Tower Bridge Experience, a fascinating exhibition situated inside the towers and engine rooms.

4. Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben set grandly along the river Thames. For over 900 years these Gothic structures covering eight acres have been the home of English government. The House of Lords occupies the southern end of the building while the House of Commons occupies the northern end. Within the Houses of Parliament there is also Westminster Hall, the Crypt Church, Members' Lobby, the Commons Library and the Peers Library. Outside, Big Ben remains the most recognized landmark. Big Ben is not the name of the famous London Clock but instead the name of the 13-ton bell that can be found inside the clock. The bell is named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner of Works.

5. Trafalgar Square & Piccadilly Circus

As the gateway to the West End of London, Piccadilly Circus is where five of London's busiest streets meet. In the daytime it's a bustling area filled with tourists, shoppers, and business people. At the heart of Piccadilly is a fountain topped with the statue of an archer a favorite spot for tourists and romantic couples. After dusk is when the area really comes to life with its sparkling neon signs and party pub atmosphere.

Trafalgar Square is a great place to sit and soak up London's outdoor ambiance. Built in 1805 following Britain's naval victory of the Battle of Trafalgar, the Square is adorned with an enormous fountain and statues; the most famous is the 118 ft. tall statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson. The area is also famous for the large number of pigeons that congregate there.

6. British Airways' London Eye

This stunning structure opened at the beginning of 2000 to celebrate the Millennium, and at 443-feet tall, is the world's tallest observation wheel. (Don't call it a Ferris wheel as Ferris wheels are supported on both sides and have open capsules that hang down.) The wheel has 32 capsules that hold up to 25 people and provide a nice slow moving 30-minute "flight" with unparalleled views of London.

7. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is the site where many monarchs since William the Conqueror in 1066 have been crowned and where many are entombed. The Abbey has also been used for fourteen Royal Weddings, including Queen Elizabeth's. Visitors will be able to see the 700-year-old Coronation Chair, Poet's Corner, cloisters, and the grave of the Unknown Warrior.

8. St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral was constructed between 1675 and 1710, but stands on the site of two previous cathedrals dating back to 604. Its famous dome is the second largest in the world after St. Peter's in Rome. The cathedral has been host to many great occasions including the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. There are many treasures to see but a visit to the Whispering Gallery cannot be missed. A whisper against the blank circular wall can be heard 138 feet away on the opposite side.

9. Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens

London is blessed with numerous tranquil parks with abundant flora and manicured lawns. Hyde Park, together with Kensington Gardens is the largest of the three royal parks. It is also famous for the Serpentine boating lake, complete with a designated swimming area, and the Serpentine Gallery, showcasing a number of modern artists. There's also Speaker's Corner, a traditional haven of free speech.

10. Madame Tussaud's

The famous waxworks, started by Madame Tussaud in 1835, are one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. Madame Tussaud learned her trade making death masks during the French Revolution, and those of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are displayed beside the actual blade that beheaded them. There are wax models of the famous and the infamous from every walk of life, some of which are amazingly lifelike.

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