Monumental London

Hannah Saunders is a student at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in London, England.

It’s no secret that London is incredibly historic. Once settled by the Romans, (then known as Londinium) it’s a city where a person can’t walk five feet without coming into contact with a building or a monument that dates back to the ancient, medieval, or Victorian eras. These are my top five prime monuments you need to visit and appreciate.

  1. Buckingham Palace: No surprise this is number one. This is the HQ for the British monarchy–the place where decades of royals have lived, laughed, and officiated. The royal family has lived in the State Rooms since 1837, but it was James I (1603-1625) who first claimed the area to be under sovereign protection. Granted, that was for his mulberry plantation (silkworms), but that’s beside the point.

2. Tower of London: Probably one of the most infamous monuments in London. Why? Because of all the executions, of course! In fact, King Henry VIII came here so much, he got frequent flyer miles. Just kidding. But seriously, the Tower of London is not a cheery place–and for good reason, it was never intended as such. It was built by William the Conqueror (well, White Tower was) in order to keep watch for enemies over the Thames. It’s first and foremost a fortress, not a palace. Over the years, it’s been the secure location to house VIP prisoners, royal jewels, and the Royal Mint. Today, it still holds the Crown Jewels and the charismatic Beefeaters who provide tours to perpetuate its bloody, dramatic, fascinating English history.

3. The Monument to the Great Fire of 1666: Made by Christopher Wren, this long column is meant to commemorate the Great Fire of London that left only 1/5 of London burn-free. Apparently if placed on its side, the full length of the column will touch the starting point of the fire–a bakery on Pudding Lane. Though this fire was centuries ago, it curiously marked the start of modern London and is an intrinsic part of London history.

4. Westminster Abbey: If there’s one thing England in general is good at, it’s cathedrals and churches. Westminster is no exception. Known as the most famous English church ever, it’s been the coronation spot, wedding venue, and crypt for royals since the 11th century. It’s in this church that’ll you’ll find the final resting places of big names like Elizabeth I, King Edward “Longshanks,” (he was really tall) and Mary Queen of Scots. Given by the long lines and millions of tourists who come here each year, it’s clear–people are dying to get in. *ba-duh-bum*

5. Abbey Road: I know, I know…this isn’t from the era of Edwardians or Romans–but this is modern history. If you’re up for the challenge, you can find Abbey Road and locate the exact spot where the famous Beatles album was photographed. You’ll know it’s the one by the big groups of people obstructing traffic to mimic that iconic shot (and yeah, I was one of those people). Abbey Road Studios was the place for 1960s music recording, just ask Pink Floyd. However, Abbey Road Studios wasn’t only for the 60’s–it went on to be the studio where the Star Wars franchise recorded its original score and where hundreds of musicians still make pilgrimage. If you consider yourself an audiophile, say “one and one and one is three” and “come together right now” at Abbey Road.

The world awaits…discover it.

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