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Top Ten Essential Architecture top ten London buildings  
     
  London has so many great places to see it's hard to know which are the true 'must sees'. It's always good to get recommendations from friends who have visited London recently, so here are my top ten tourist attractions in London.  
  For a more complete list, see the main list  
1 Saint Paul's Cathedral  
026-StPaulsCathedralSouth.jpg (78835 bytes)

architect

Sir Christopher Wren

location

On the river, in the heart of the Roman / mediaeval city (on Ludgate Hill).

date

1675 to 1710

style

English Baroque

construction

masonry dome peaks at 366 feet

type

Church

St Paul's Cathedral is a cathedral on Ludgate Hill, in the City of London, and the seat of the Bishop of London. The present building dates from the 17th century, and is generally reckoned to be London's fourth St Paul's Cathedral, although the number is higher if every major medieval reconstruction is counted as a new cathedral.
 
     
Westminster Palace  
047-Houses.of.parliament.overall.arp.jpg (54285 bytes)

architect

Sir Charles BarryDesign of gothic details assisted by A. W. N. Pugin.

location

Westminster

date

1836 to 1868

style

Gothic Revival

construction

stone

type

Government

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet to conduct their business. The Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the London borough of the City of Westminster, close by other government buildings in Whitehall.

The oldest part of the Palace still in existence, Westminster Hall, dates from 1097. The palace originally served as a royal residence but no monarch has lived in it since the 16th century. Most of the present structure dates from the 19th century, when the Palace was rebuilt after it was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in 1834. The architect responsible for rebuilding the Palace was Sir Charles Barry with Augustus Welby Pugin. The building is an example of Gothic revival. One of the Palace's most famous features is the clock tower, a tourist attraction that houses the famous bell Big Ben. The latter name is often used, erroneously, for the clock itself, which is actually part of St Stephen's Tower.

 
     
3 Tower of London  
044-Tower_of_London2C_Traitors_Gate.jpg (93369 bytes)

architect

unknown 

location

east London

date

1070 to 1090

style

Gothic Elizabethan

construction

masonry 

type

castle, fortress, prison
The Tower of London is a landmark in central London—in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets—just outside the City of London.

The White Tower, the square building with turrets on each corner that gave it its name, is actually in the middle of a complex of several buildings along the River Thames in London, which have served as fortresses, armories, treasuries, zoos/menageries, mints, palaces, places of execution, public records offices, observatories, shelters, and prisons (particularly for upper class prisoners). This last use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower" meaning "imprisoned". One widely known example was that Elizabeth I was imprisoned for a time in the Tower during her sister Mary's reign.
 
     
4 Westminster Abbey  
The Abbey's western façade

architect

Henry Yevele, two western towers were built between 1722 and 1745 by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Further rebuilding and restoration occurred in the 19th century under Sir George Gilbert Scott.

location

Westminster, London

date

1245-1517

style

early example of a Gothic Revival design

construction

constructed from Portland stone

type

church

getting there

Nearest London Underground stations: 
St. James's Park (District, Circle lines) 
Westminster (Jubilee, District, Circle lines) 

The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, which is almost always referred to as Westminster Abbey, is a mainly Gothic church, on the scale of a cathedral, in Westminster, London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English monarchs.
 
     
5 Hampton Court  

architect

Thomas Wolsey and Sir Christopher Wren

location

in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, south west London

date

1616-1694

style

an interesting mix between mediaeval Tudor and neoclassical Elizabethan

construction

brick, stone

type

Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a former royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, south west London, United Kingdom. The palace is located 11.7 miles (18.9 km) south west of Charing Cross and upstream of Central London on the River Thames. It is currently open to the public as a major tourist attraction. The palace's Home Park is the site of the annual Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

 
     
6 Tower Bridge  
043-Tower-bridge-south-view.jpg (89601 bytes)

architect

Horace Jones

location

over the Thames, east of the city

date

1886 to 1894

style

Tudorbethan

construction

masonry and steel

type

openable bascule Bridge

Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge in London, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It is sometimes mistakenly called London Bridge, which is the next bridge upstream. The bridge is owned and maintained by Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the Corporation of London.
 
     
7 The British Museum  

architect

Sir Robert Smirke Queen Elizabeth gallery by Norman Foster

location

London

date

1823 to 1847

style

Ionic columns NeoClassical

construction

stone

type

Museum

The central quadrangle of the British Museum in London was redeveloped to become the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, commonly referred to simply as the Great Court, during the late 1990s. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. The court has a tessellated glass roof by Foster and Partners (Architects) and Buro Happold (Engineers) covering the entire court and surrounds the original circular British Museum Reading Room in the centre, now a museum. It is the largest covered square in Europe. The glass and steel roof is made up of 1,656 pairs of glass windowpanes; each of a unique shape because of the undulating nature of the roof.
 
     
8 Windsor Castle  

architect

Jeffry Wyatville

location

Windsor

date

1820

style

Romanesque (Norman)

construction

Stone

type

Palace

A thousand year old fortress transformed to a royal palace. This well known silhouette of a seemingly medieval castle was not created, however, until the 1820s by Jeffry Wyatville
Windsor Castle, at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, is the largest inhabited castle in the world and, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, it is the oldest in continuous occupation.
 
     
9 Nelson's Column- Trafalgar Square  
065B.jpg (52054 bytes)

architect

William Railton

location

Trafalgar Square

date

1840

style

NeoClassical

construction

5.5m (18ft) statue of Nelson stands on top of a 46 m (151 ft) granite column

type

Monument

The column was built between 1840 and 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The 5.5m (18ft) statue of Nelson stands on top of a 46 m (151 ft) granite column. The statue faces south, towards the Palace of Westminster and along Pall Mall, where his ships are represented on the top of each flagpole. The top of the Corinthian column (based on one from the Temple of Mars Ultor in Rome) is decorated with bronze acanthus leaves cast from British cannons. The square pedestal is decorated with four bronze panels, cast from captured French guns, depicting Nelson's four great victories.

 
     
10 30 St Mary Axe  
001-gherkin3.jpg (31677 bytes)

architect

Norman Foster

location

30 St Mary Axe

date

2004

style

Postmodern

construction

590 ft (180 m) tall

type

Office Building

30 St Mary Axe is a building in London's main financial district, the City of London. It is informally known as "The Gherkin", and sometimes as The Swiss Re Tower, Swiss Re Building, Swiss Re Centre, or just Swiss Re, after its owner and principal occupier. It is 590 ft (180 m) tall, making it the 2nd tallest building in the City of London, after Tower 42, and the 6th tallest in London as a whole. The building is famous for its daring architecture by Pritzker Prize winner Sir Norman Foster and ex-partner Ken Shuttleworth. The building was constructed by Skanska.