London is a thriving city full of culture and vibrancy. This is expressed perfectly in the cities varied architecture. You can trace much of London’s history just by looking at it’s buildings.
As a visitor to London it is often difficult to know where to begin as there is so much to see. So here is a guide explaining some of the most important architecture in central London and a summary of its history.
The beauty of London is that a certain type of style or period of architectural design is not just located in one area. You can find art deco, gothic and modern buildings all next to each other. There is no plan, which makes it all the more exciting for the visitor.
Many of London’s hotels and apartment buildings have fascinating designs and history. When you visit London be sure to find out about the history of where you are staying. Even if it is not a well recognised building it is still likely to have some kind of interesting history.
If we start at Trafalgar square it’s not easy to miss Nelson’s column towering above everything else which was built in 1843. It is one of the icons of London and a monument to a Lord Nelson a Naval Commander.
In Trafalgar Square you can also see the National Gallery which was built in 1824 and the National Portrait Gallery which dates to 1856. Both impressive buildings.
If you then travel north to Great Russell Street you will find the British Museum which was designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1823. The building was designed to emulate classical Greek architecture. This is evident with the large pillars at the front.
The thinking behind the grand design of the British Museum was to emulate the stature of the artefacts and treasures that could be found inside the museum.
In the Victorian era train stations were designed to be very grand and make a statement. This is very true when you look at St Pancras Station which can be easily accessed by Kings Cross underground station. This was designed in 1863 and stands out amongst the modern buildings of the Kings Cross area. It has been more recently renovated to restore it to it’s previous glory.
Moving further south in central London we can find Westminster Abbey. Located near the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Construction of Westminster Abbey was first started in 1245 and it is a Gothic style, but because it has been added to over the years has become a mix of various styles with Gothic being the over riding theme.
The Houses of Parliament are obviously well known and a spectacular sight, especially seen from the river Thames. The present building was constructed in 1840 after the previous building was destroyed by a fire in 1834. The design is classified as a perpendicular gothic style.
Moving further east in central London is the Tower of London. The first part of the tower which is called the White Tower was first built by William the Conqueror in 1078. Because the tower has been changed so much over the years it is hard to generalise about the style of it’s architecture as it encompasses many different time periods.
Next to the Tower of London is Tower Bridge. One of the most iconic of London’s buildings. When this was first built and opened in 1894 it was the most sophisticated bridge ever made. It signifies a boom period in the UK when industrialisation was at it’s height.
This is just a small sample of some of the famous buildings you can find in central London. Many of these are easy to walk to from each other. On the way you will encounter other architecture which all comes together to make London what it is today.
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