Greater London covers some 720 square miles. Twelve million people, nearly a quarter of the whole population of Great Britain live in this area, its boroughs, suburbs and satellite towns. But still London is not difficult place for a foreigner to find his way about in, as most of the places of interest, both historical and contemporary are concetrat in a comparatively small area.
Places of interest
London's skyline is dominated by the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, from which there is a wonderful view of the city. The cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece, was begun in 1675 and was not completed until 1710. This great renaissance church is dedicated to the honour of Saint Paul. In the crypt are the tombs of some of Britain's great heroes, including Adniral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington etc.
The oldest part of London, The City, lying east of St. Paul's Cathedral is renowned for being the very nerve of Britain's trade and finance (there are the head offices of great banks and insurance companies and the Bank of England), but also for its pubs and excellent roasts and meat pies you can have here.
The famous 'Cheshire Cheese' in Fleet Street is the best known of them. Passing along Fleet Street you can read the names of papers, the Times, the Daily Telegraph and many others over the fronts of the buildings. Fleet Street is the centre of the offices and printing presses of most Britain's national daily newspapers, London's evening papers and of many provincial and foreign papers as well.
London's great fruit, flower and vegetable market, Covent Garden in a maze of narrow streets stands in the same vincity as the Royal Opera House, usually reffered to simply as 'Covent Garden'. Covent Garden is the best place for 'street theatre', a place to explore, a place to relax. Covent Garden's market was built in 1830 for the Duke of Bedford. Thus in the morning the place is crowded with heavy lorries carrying boxes of oranges, bananas, potatoes, cabbages, and in the evening it is thronged with taxis and cars bringing people to the opera.
No foreigner fails to go to Piccadilly Circus the real centre of West End London and blaze of coloured flashing neon signs at night. Within a few hundred yards of Piccadilly Circus are most of the biggest theatres and cinemas in London. Close by is Soho, noted for its foreign restaurants and for being the centre of London's entertainment and night life. Piccadilly Circus is very famous square in the heart of London. In the middle of Piccadilly Circus there is a statue of Eros - the God of Love. Many buildings around are decorated with bright neon signs, such as Coca Cola, Panasonic etc. Trocadero is a centre of entertainments, restaurants and shops, it is situated on one of the principal sites of Piccadilly Circus on two acres of land.
Bloomsbury on the other hand is one of the centres of culture and the sciences. Here is the University of London with its numerous research institutes and departments, and the British Museum containing a fine collection of ancient Greek and Roman art and one of the largest libraries in the world. In its spacious reading room you can meet students and scientists of every nationalities.
There are two Houses of Parliament: the Lords and the Commons. They are in the same building, in the Palace of Westminster on the left and the famous Big Ben (the bell, named after Sir Benjamin Hall) next to Westminster Bridge.
Buckingham Palace is the London resindence of the Queen Elizabeth II. and her husband and family. There are the guards in red uniforms in front of the Palace.
The Tower dates from the 11.century. It was a palace and state prison, with such important prisoners as two of Henry VIII's wives. Now the Tower is a museum af armoury and you can see the crown jewels there.
Trafalgar Square, the British fleet Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the French and Spanish fleets in Trafalgar Bay in 1805. Trafalgar Square commemorates this victory. There is Nelson's Column in the middle and four lions around, it is also famous for its pigeons and meetings.
Bridges of London, at present there are more than twenty bridges over Thames connecting the two banks of the river. For example Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo, Westminster, Lamberth, Vauxhall Bridge, Kew Bridge.
The Royal Albert Hall is a unique example of Victorian architecture, a renaissance-style building in redbrick. This enormous amphiteatre stands on the edge of Kensing Gardens, and it is named in memory of Queen Victoria's husband.
Madame Tussaud's is the home of celebrities from the world of entertainment, politics and sport, this is the best known wax exhibition in the world. The exhibition consists of six areas: The Tableaux, The Conservatory, Super Stars, The Garden Hall, The Chamber of Horrors and The Battle of Trafalgar. This exhibition was moved from Baker Street to a specially constructed building on Marylebone Road.
Whitehall is a London street in which there are many government offices. It runs directly south from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square.
London's Chinatown is situated in the heart of London's entertainment and theaterland, at the corner of Soho. It operates as business centre for the Chinese people throughout the whole of Britain. There are many restaurants in Chinatown.
Bond Street is renowned for its galleries, antiques and jewellery shops as well as exclusive fashions and luxury good. It is one of the oldest streets in London.
Parks and Gardens
London is renowned for its parks and gardens. The most renowned gardens are the Chelsea Physic Garden (the second oldest botanic garden in the country), Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Richmond Park (vast royal park of 2500 acres), at the heart of the capital lie the Royal Parks, including Hyde Park (originally a hunting forest belonging to Henry VIII), Regents Park (today contains London ZOO, a boating lake, an open-air theatre), Green Park and Saint James's Park (the oldest of the London's parks, with excellent views of Buckingham Palace), Greenwich Park (containing the National Maritime Museum), Holland Park etc. Admission to all Royal parks is free.
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