In our previous London video tour, we gave you a tour of the thriving districts Kensington & Chelsea in London. In this video tour, we’ll explore the City of London, where the historic old and the innovative new make for one very interesting district of London.
The City of London refers to the location of the old Roman city of London, as well as to the key Financial District of London. The City, as it is commonly known, stretches roughly from Chancery Lane in the west to the Tower of London in the east, and from Charterhouse Street in the north to the River Thames in the south.
As you can see on the map, this means the City of London is one of the smaller districts of London. This has also earned the City its nickname: “the Square Mile”. On this square mile, however, you’ll find more historic landmarks next to modern skyscrapers than in any other part of the city. In this article, we’ll expand on our video tour of the City of London, and show you some of the most famous landmarks such as the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as the contemporary buildings such as the Gherkin – 30 St. Mary Axe – and Millennium Bridge that give the area such a modern vibe!
Discover the Tower of London
The tour starts at the Tower of London: arguably London’s most imposing landmark. Technically the Tower lies just outside of the outer eastern border of the City of London, but if you’re in the area it’s one landmark you simply cannot miss. Built in 1066, the Tower of London is simply brimming with history. Besides being used as a castle and fortress, the Tower was also used as a prison, and even held Queen Elizabeth I for some time.
Nowadays, you can admire the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom inside the Tower. However, if you don’t want to pay an admission fee, you can also skip on the inside tour of the Tower and simply admire it from outside. If you walk east past the Tower and stick to the path that runs along the Thames, you’ll be treated to an amazing and completely free view of Tower Bridge.
Leadenhall Market & The Cobbled Streets of the City of London
If you walk northwest from the Tower of London, you’ll come across some of the more famous modern buildings of the financial district, as well as the beautiful old houses and cobble-stoned streets that also give the City of London its remarkable feel.
On Gracechurch Street you’ll find Leadenhall Market: a beautiful covered market where you can buy fresh produce, flowers and more. The market’s decorated interior is so outstanding that it was used as a set for movies such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Around the market you’ll find great English pubs, bars and restaurants, such as the great Italian place Bolton’s. If you can’t get enough of Leadenhall Market, also be sure to visit Smithfield Market, which was designed by the same architect as Leadenhall Market: Sir Horace Jones.
Explore London From The River Thames
The River Thames runs to the south of the City of London, and has always played a big part in the history of the city. The river also offers a great new way to see the city. There are many different river cruises offered in London, and you can catch several of them from the pier at the Tower of London. Seeing London from the river, you’ll get an amazing vantage point of attractions such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the London Eye, the Big Ben and Westminster Palace.
A free alternative is to cross the pedestrian Millennium Bridge from the City of London across the Thames to the South Bank. In the City, the bridge begins just below St. Paul’s Cathedral, which means you’ll get a great view of the Cathedral from the center of the bridge. On the other side of the river, the bridge takes you directly to the Tate Modern, and Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre is also just 1 block away. From the bridge you also get a great view of London’s new skyscrapers on both sides of the river. To find out more things to do on or around the Thames, check out Things to do on the River Thames.
Stay in a Vacation Rental Apartment in the City of London
If you’re going to London on holiday, the City is a great place to stay because of its central location and its proximity to some of the city’s most famous landmarks.
However, if you’re coming to the city for a business trip, there’s an even bigger chance the City is where you’re going. The City isn’t just the foremost financial center of London; it’s also the main legal center.
Whether you’re coming to London for business or pleasure, we have many great vacation rental apartments available in the City of London. These fully equipped apartments can provide you with all the comfort you’re used to having at home, and will also help you feel like a true City of London local!
A Monument to the Great Fire of London & St. Paul’s Cathedral
If you want to explore the history of the City of London, a visit to the Monument to the Great Fire of London, close to the northern end of the London Bridge, is an impressive landmark to see. The monument is 62 meters tall (200 feet) and stands exactly 62 meters from the spot where the Great Fire started in 1666. When you climb the monument all the way to the top, you’ll get a sense of the immense destruction of the fire, which at the worst point destroyed the entire western and middle parts of the City of London. The fire also obliterated the medieval St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Work on rebuilding the cathedral began not long after the Great Fire, and Sir Christopher Wren saw his masterpiece completed in 1710. The new St. Paul’s Cathedral had an English Baroque design, and the dome was made to resemble the famous dome of Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica. The Cathedral remains a working church to this day, and is also a popular site for Royal celebrations. If you visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, you can climb the dome for some magnificent views of London. Because the cathedral lies on top Ludgate Hill, the highest point of the City, the panoramic views are truly breathtaking. Can’t get enough of the view of London from above? Check out the Best Places to See London from Above.
Skyscrapers and Modern Architecture in the City of London
Our tour concludes with a look towards the new in the City of London. Over the past couple of decades, marvelous new buildings have reinvented the skyline of the City. One of the most famous of these is 30 St Mary Axe, which is better known as “the Gherkin”. This nickname refers to the incredible shape of the building, which is unlike any other building in the world.
The Lloyd’s Building is another modern structure with a remarkable shape. It is sometimes referred to as “the inside-out building”, because all the buildings services, such as elevators, staircases and pipes are located on the outside of the structure. This gives the interior an incredibly open feel, so if you can be sure to sneak a peek inside the insurance company’s building. There are many other amazing skyscrapers in the City, such as the new Heron Tower, which shows how the City of London has beautifully combined its historic heritage with modern innovation. The City really is an area unlike any other!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our tour of the City of London. Of course there are many more sights to see in this amazing part of London. What’s your favorite spot in the City?
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