Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, located on the banks of the River Thames in central London, are one of the most popular landmarks in the British capital. Once home to the Royal family, this beautiful palace now comprises the meeting place for the House of Commons and the House of Lords (two houses of the Parliament of the UK).  Big Ben, of course refers to the famous clock tower which has been keeping everyone on time in London since 1859.

The oldest part of the palace is Westminster Hall which was built in 1097 and boasts one of Europe’s largest medieval halls. This is one of the few parts of the building which survived the terrible fire in 1834 which almost burnt down the entire palace. Today it is used for important state occasions.

A new parliament and Big Ben were built following the fire known as the New Palace. Guided tours of the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben the clock tower) are only available to UK residents upon application to their local MP or a member of the House of Lords. However, the Palace of Westminster is open to everyone during the summer period and there are guided tours of the chambers and state rooms. It is also possible to attend a parliamentary session free of charge, although you must book in advance.

Finally, also recommended is a visit to stunning Westminster Abbey featuring not only the most visited church in London, but also the privileged location where most coronations, royal weddings and burials take place.

London Guide | Monuments in London

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