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Tower of London, officially named Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, is a historic castle, that sits on the north bank of the River Thames, in central London, England, dating from the 1080s. The castle lies within the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, being separated from the eastern edge of the City of London, by the open space, known as Tower Hill.
The history of the Tower of London started in the early 1080s, as written above, when William the Conqueror began the building of a massive stone tower, like none other seen before, at the center of his London fortress. As the years gone by, in the centuries that followed, successive monarchs added their "vision" to the fortifications, the castle having a rich story to tell visitors today, revealing its role as a fortress, palace and prison, played throughout the ages.
The Tower of London has been the seat of the British government, the living quarters of monarchs, the site of famous political intrigue, the repository of the Crown Jewel, and it has housed lions, bears and, up to this day, flightless ravens, not to mention notorious traitors and framed members of the court, lords and ministers, clergymen and knights.
Although the Tower of London is an attraction on its own, the area that surrounds it houses many other appealing attractions, some telling London's history, from the beginning until present days, other revealing the city's beauty and mix of modernism and past times.
London's most famous landmarks includes The House of Parliament, with the well-known Big Ben, the place where laws governing British life are conceived, debated and enacted. The building dates from the 1840's, and it was chosen as the Parliament's site, after a devastating fire destroyed the previous building. The Gothic style was designed by Sir Charles Barry, along with A. W. Pugin.
The Tower Bridge is another "must see" attraction, when visiting London. Over a hundred years old, the tower catches the eye with its impressive stature, and offers amazing views of the surroundings and HMS Belfast, an 11 500-ton cruiser that opened the bombardment of the Normandy coast on D-Day.
Another London attraction worth checking out is Buckingham Palace, more popularly known as "Buck House", which has served as the Monarch's permanent London rsidence, since the accession of Queen Victoria. The Palace's history started in 1702, originally serving as the Duke of Buckingham's city residence, being sold by the Duke's son to George III, 60 years later. Today, Buckingham Palace is the largest private house in London, with more than 660 rooms.
London Eye is more than worth a visit, being recognized as the biggest observation wheel in the world, rising at approximately 135 m, over the Thames River and weighting over 2000 tonnes. If the sky is clear, enthusiasts can enjoy a 25-mile panoramic view of the city. London Eye is open daily, between 10 am and 8 pm. From June through September, it stays open until 9 pm.
Trafalgar Square is another beautiful area in London, being watched over by the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson, from 167 feet above. It was built to commemorate the Admiral's victory, in 1805, the statue being the focal point of this magnificent area. The design of the Square was laid out in 1830, since then becoming a popular venue for political rallies, housing today thousands of pigeons, which will, for sure, appear in all your vacation pictures, willingly or not.
Other popular tourist attractions in London, include: The British Museum, Tate Gallery of Modern Art, the National Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Leicester Square, St. Paul's Cathedral, Victoria Shopping Centre, Westminster Cathedral and many other.