The River Thames is the lifeblood of London, flowing through the heart of the city and offering spectacular views of its iconic landmarks. Here are seven of the best attractions you can enjoy along the River Thames, from Tower Bridge to Millennium Bridge.
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most recognizable symbols, spanning the river with its distinctive twin towers and bascules. The bridge was built in the late 19th century and is a marvel of engineering and design. You can walk across the bridge and admire the views of the city from both sides. If you want a more thrilling experience, you can also visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition, where you can learn about the history and mechanics of the bridge and walk on the glass floor that lets you see the river and traffic below.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of London's oldest and most famous buildings. It was founded by William the Conqueror in 1066 and has served as a royal palace, a prison, a fortress, and a treasury over the centuries. The Tower is home to the Crown Jewels, a collection of priceless gems and regalia that symbolize the monarchy. You can also see the ravens that live in the Tower, which are said to protect it from harm. The Tower offers guided tours by the Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters, who tell stories of the Tower’s history and legends.
City Hall is a modern and distinctive building that houses the offices of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. It was designed by Norman Foster and opened in 2002. The building has a circular shape that minimizes its surface area and reduces energy consumption. Its spiral staircase also runs through its 10 floors, creating a sense of openness and transparency. You can visit City Hall for free and see the public areas, such as The Chamber, where the London Assembly meets, and The Living Room, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the river and the city
Tate Modern is one of the world’s most visited modern and contemporary art museums. It is housed in a former power station on the south bank of the river, which was transformed into a stunning gallery space by architects Herzog & de Meuron. You can also explore the Turbine Hall, a vast industrial hall that hosts large-scale artworks and performances. Tate Modern is free to enter, except for some special exhibitions.
Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that connects Tate Modern on the south bank with St Paul’s Cathedral on the north bank. It was opened in 2000 to mark the new millennium and was designed by architect Norman Foster and sculptor Anthony Caro. The bridge is made of steel and has a sleek and elegant appearance. It also offers stunning views of the river and the skyline. The bridge is sometimes nicknamed the “Wobbly Bridge” because it swayed when it first opened but has since been stabilized.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most iconic landmarks and a masterpiece of baroque architecture. It was built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666 and has been a symbol of hope and resilience ever since. The cathedral is famous for its dome, which is one of the largest in the world and dominates the cityscape. You can climb up to the dome and see the Whispering Gallery, where a whisper can be heard across the dome, and the Golden Gallery, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of London. You can also visit the crypt, where some of Britain’s most illustrious figures are buried or commemorated.
Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre, where many of William Shakespeare’s plays were performed in the 16th and 17th centuries. The new Globe was built in 1997, using traditional methods and materials, and is located about 230 meters from the site of the original theatre. You can take a guided tour of the theatre, learn about its history and architecture, or watch a performance in the open-air auditorium.
The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe, 310 meters high. It was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and opened in 2013. The Shard has 72 floors of offices, restaurants, hotels, and apartments and a public viewing platform on the top floor. The platform offers spectacular views of London and beyond, up to 64 kilometres on a clear day. You can also enjoy a drink or a meal at one of the bars or restaurants on the upper floors or stay at the luxurious Shangri-La Hotel on floors 34 to 52.
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