-is the capital of both - England and the Unitied Kingdom. It lies on the river Thames and covers an area of l,580 square kilometres. Almost 7 million people live there and about l2 milion in its conurbations. It includes the city of the London and 32 boroughs. London is the seat of the Monarch, the Parliament, the Government and the Supreme Court. The Prime Meridian of the World runs across Greenwich in the east of London.
It's history dates back to the 800 B.C. when this place was inhabited
in the Stone Age. The city continued to grow mainly in the Middle Ages and gradually extended beyond its walls to absorb originally separate Westminster. The l6th century establishment of the trading copanies and the Royal Exchange contributed to the rapid economic rise of London. In l7th century a lot of people died from a plague epidemic and a year later the Great Fire of London destroyed four fifths of the city. Sir Christoper Wren was appointed the main architect of rebuilding of London. Until the reign of Qeen Victoria London became the biggest town in Britain. German bombing during the WW II damaged mainly the City and its East End the most risky and criticized project in recent times is the rescue and new development of the Dockland east of the city.
Recent London is devided into several parts. Central London consists of three main areas.
The oldest one is the City. It lays on the north bank of the River Thames and the best known places of interest are the Tower and the Tower Bridge. In the past the Tower used to be a fortress, a royal home, execution site, and a prison - many famous people were imprisoned right there ( Guy Fawks, Henry VIII' wives, Thomas More...) Now it is a museum where tourists go to see an arsenal of weapons, the Crown Jewels in the Jewel house and the Museum of Horror. The Tower is guarded by the Yeomen Warders who still wear the uniform of Tudor times and six ravens are kept in the Tower to protect the whole Kingdom. The legend says that the Kingdom will cease to exist when the ravens leave the Tower. Next to Tower stands Tower Bridge, the famous bridge of London, which is raised in the middle to allow ships to pass up the river. About 20 minute's walk from the Tower there is St. Paul's Cathedral, the greatest of English Churches. It is built in the Baroque style and it consists of the main nave that is crowned by a central dome. Inside the dome along the cupola runs the Whispering Gallery - its acoustic make possible to hear words on one side whispered against the wall of opposite side. In this cathedral was held Churchill's funeral service, wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and a lot of Britain's heroes are burried there - Admiral Nelson, sir Christopher Wren. Not far from Cathedrel rises the Monument commemorating the place where the Great Fire of London started. The City is also a financial centre represented by the Bank of England.
The second area is Westminster with its Royal Palaces and Government offices. Westmister Abbey is the centre of this area. You can see there Coronation Chair containing the Stone of Scone, symbol of Scotish Royalty or Poet's corner - there are tombstones and monuments to some famous writers such as John Milton, Walter Scott, Lord Byron, William Shakespeare, but only a few of them are really burried there. Close to Abbey stands the Palace of Westminster known as Houses of Parlament. They were built in Gothic style after destruction by fire and they are the seat of Parlament. During the time Parlament is in session a flag flies at the top of the Big Ben Tower. It is famous for its accurancy and for its l3-ton bell. Another place of interest is Buckingham Palace - London residence of the Britich royal fimily. Every day at ll,30 is held the Changing of the Guard. An insepareble wiev of the Buckingham Palace is the Qeen Victoria Monument in front of it. In this part of Central London is also the Mall - one of the most ewclusive streets with best-known genleman's clubs and expensive shops, that takes visitors from the Palace to Trafalgar Square. It is the largest one in London and so it is also a place of political demonstrations. Its name commemorates the naval victory of Admiral Nelson over the French and Spanish fleet at Spanish Cape Trafalgar. In the middle of the Square is Nelson's Column, that is surrounded by two fountains and several other monuments to famous people. On the northern side of the Square is the National Gallery. It contains collections of Raphael, Rubens, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Goya... Next to it is the Nathional Portrait Gallery that houses portraits of famous people. Big gallery of modern art is Tate Gallery. There is also a lot of museums there, but the best known are the Victoria and Albert museum and British museum. Thousands of visitors come to the Madam Tussaud's museum to see waxvorks of famous people from all the world.
The third area of central London is West End, famous for shops and entertainment. There is also well-known Piccadely Circus. There is the Statue of Eros in the middle and a lot of shops, night-clubs, theatres and cinemas circling the street. So the most beautyful wiev is in the night when it is lit by many colorful advertisements. Another popular street of the West End, but mostly among the young people is Carnaby street that is full of shops offering the latest fashion. Exotic-food-lovers also prefer this part of London because of Chinatown.
London has a large nuber of parks and gardens such as Buckingham Palace Gardens, Kensigton Gardens, Regent's Park, the smallest but the oldest St. Jame's park or the best known Hyde park. It has its attractions - e.g. small lake (the Serpenthine) and Speaker's corner where anybody can make a public speech about any topic and -what is the most important-without a fear of being arrested for his opinion. Regent's park is the most elegant with its attractive gardens, lakes, zoo or Open Air Theatre.
London is also world's musical centre (the Royal Festival Hall,the Qeen Elisabeth Hall, the Royal Albert Hall or the Royal Opera House), theatre centre (the National Theatre, the National Film theatre), and important centre of transport - there are five airports (the largest is Heathrow), there is the world's oldest underground and the best -known travelliny is using busses and cars - red double-deccers (never run after the man or bus, there is stil another one comming) and old black taxis.