London tours are popular with many tourists as this is a capital city rich with history and a heritage that is intrinsically linked to the development of this illustrious nation. When visiting London, those on tours almost always find it difficult to decide on which of the many attractions to visit. Hopefully, the following information on some of the most important historical sites in the capital will help ease the decision, leading to more enjoyable and rewarding tours.
The history of London is fascinating; a settlement since the time of the Roman occupation it rapidly developed as an important trade post and centre of culture and political power. Since this period the city continued to grow, becoming the country's capital and the site of some of the most important events throughout English history. For those on tours, there are a number of interesting sights, many of which are considered to be UNESCO World Heritage Sites; here are just four of them.
The first of these historical sites that should be included in tours of London is the Palace of Westminster. While today the palace is the home of the legislative and administrative bodies; throughout history it was the home of kings and political rule. Some parts of the medieval palace remain although the exterior is a Victorian neo-gothic design. As one of the most recognisable sights anywhere in the world, tours should include this not only because of its fascinating history, but also for the photo opportunities.
Of equal importance is the Tower of London, a world heritage site that should be included in the itineraries of most tours. The history of this royal residence contains some of the most gruesome tales from the English past. At the centre of the site lies the medieval White Tower; an important building that at the time represented the domination of the Normans over the surrounding population. The other buildings were added later and the grounds have seen important events from history such as the beheading of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I's imprisonment and many other instances of torture and execution. Today the tower houses the crown jewels of the realm. A must see for those with a love of opulence and sparkling adornment.
The Royal Naval College at Greenwich is the third of the heritage sites worth seeing on tours of London. Designed by heralded architect Sir Christopher Wren, the designer of St Paul's Cathedral it is a fine example of his work. Until a decade ago the site still operated as a college, training members of the navy. A fabulous building that dominates the Thames waterfront it imposing size and design is especially beautiful from the river; the eye being attracted by the two towers to the sublime palace and hillside in the background.
Finally, of the world heritage sites in London the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew are well worth including in most tours. The gardens contain some fantastic examples of glasswork buildings that are considered by many to be reason enough to visit Kew. Inside these domineering glass houses are some of the most varied and diverse plant species kept anywhere in the world; the site remains today as one of the world's leading research facilities in the field of botanical study. The gardens themselves also offer tourists a welcome distraction from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hopefully these sites will be part of many people's tours of London. With so much to see and so little time compiling an itinerary can be difficult. With the inclusion of these sites a trip to London should be interesting, educational and enjoyable.
Travel expert Thomas Pretty looks into some of the inclusions that should be present on London tours for their historical and cultural importance.