Time Travelling in the Capital: The 7 Best Historical Landmarks to Visit in London.

Margie D. Moore
25 Historical Places in London: Upto 20% Off on Tickets

The city of London exudes culture and diversity- and is one of the most important cities in the world. Originally founded by early hunter-gatherers around 6,000 B.C., the city’s effective functioning arguably began with the Romans. Under the rule of Emperor Claudius in AD 43, Roman armies controlled much of the southeast of Britain, and the first definite mention of London dates to the year AD 60. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D., the city was attacked several times by Vikings, which resulted in the city being largely destroyed and abandoned. Following this, London has seen settlers who are considered the greatest in historical figures. William the Conqueror, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria (to name just a few), are leaders who shaped the whole of Britain and paved the way for London to become the city that stands today- and their legacy remains through architectural structures. There are plenty of historical buildings and landmarks to visit in London, in which you can relive historical moments and see treasured artifacts. If you’re visiting the Big Smoke soon, We Buy Any House have compiled a list of the best historical landmarks and buildings that you should visit.

Big Ben:

One of the most recognised symbols of London, Big Ben, is an infamous clock tower that stands at the top of a 320-foot-high Elizabethan Tower and rang for the first time on May 31st, 1859. Since then, the clock has been known for its accurate timekeeping, which are shown on all four of the clock faces- each one 23 feet wide and illuminate once the sun sets over the capital city. After a fire destroyed the headquarters of the British Parliament in 1834, royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, decided that the city should have a clock that accurately pinpointed the time and could be seen from the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Big Ben claims its name after Sir Benjamin Hall, who was the London commissioner of works during the time it was built- whereas others believe that it was named after Benjamin Caunt, who was a popular heavyweight boxer during that period. 

The clock is an absolute favourite with tourists and sightseers, who marvel at the clock’s size and are keen to take a picture of the landmark. A staple of British history and an iconic landmark across the globe, Big Ben is one to visit.

Old Royal Naval College:

The architectural centerpiece of Maritime Greenwich, the Old Royal Naval College is home to a World Heritage Site and has been described by the UN as being of “outstanding universal value”. The College, which is on the site of the Tudor Palace where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born, became the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich in 1692- after Mary II decided she wanted to help wounded sailors that were returning from the Battle of La Hogue. Highlights of the hospital include the Sistine Chapel and the Pitel Hall. Four years after the hospital’s closure in 1869, the hospital became a training establishment for the Royal Navy- and in 1998 the training center the site closed so it could be under the management of the Greenwich Foundation, who oversee activities and revival of the site. In 2002 the site opened to visitors, offering guided tours of the chapel, grounds and hall free of charge. 

Buckingham Palace:

You can’t visit the capital city without going to see Buckingham Palace and hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen. The Palace is the London home and administrative center for the British Royal family and is where ceremonial and important political affairs are held, in addition to being a hugely popular tourist attraction. Purchased by King George III in 1761, George commissioned a structural renovation that would cost around £73,000, as he wanted to give the house to his wife, Queen Charlotte and their children. Once they had moved in, the palace become known as the “Queen’s House”. Fast forward 100 years, and Queen Victoria had taken residence in the Palace, and complained about the lack of space throughout the Palace. In 1845, architect Edward Blore constructed additional staterooms and ballrooms to the Palace, which were completed in 1853. In 1901 Queen Victoria passed away, and her soon Edward VII ascended to the throne- and the remnants of his interior redesign can be seen today. Since 1952, the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II and her family have lived in the Palace, and the building stands at 830,000 square feet, with 775 rooms. Buckingham Palace is open to the general public for guided tours, and spectators gather and the main gates to watch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony.

Benjamin Franklin House:

Standing at 36 Craven Street, London, close to Trafalgar Square, is Benjamin Franklin House. A terraced museum in a Georgian house, it once was the residence of Benjamin Franklin- one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. His occupancy dates to 1730, and in this house, he lived and worked for sixteen years. During his time in London, Dr. Benjamin Franklin acted as chief colonial diplomat, but he was also much more- a scientist, philosopher, inventor- and as mentioned before, a Founding Father. The house is open to the public, and offers a dynamic museum, and educational facility that helps people discover the timeless relevance of Franklin and his great work throughout history.

Royal Albert Hall:

One of London’s most distinctive and treasured buildings, the Royal Albert Hall, is located on the edge of South Kensington, London. The hall was proposed by Prince Albert, who felt it was necessary to create a group of permanent facilities that would benefit the public- originally known as Albertopolis.  Following this, the Gore House was bought by the Exhibition’s Royal Commission, but sadly, Prince Albert never got to see his ideas come to fruition as he died in 1861- however a memorial was placed for him at Hyde Park. The official opening of the hall took place on March 29th, 1871, requested by Queen Victoria, and has had the world’s leading artists perform for years- in addition to hosting the Proms concerts every summer since 1941. Annually, the venue hosts 390 shows, varying from concerts, ballets, operas, and film screenings with live orchestral accompaniment. 

The Tower of London:

Built by William the Conqueror in the 1070s, the Tower of London stood as a mighty stone tower in the center of London. The Tower attracts millions of visitors each year, as the public are simultaneously intrigued and horrified by the history of torture, imprisonment, and precious artifacts the Tower has to offer. Playing a prominent role in English history, the Tower of London has served as an armory, treasury, menagerie, a public record office, home of the Royal Mint and the Crown Jewels of England. The Tower also served as a prison and execution site in the 16th and 17th century, and was home to famous figures such as Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Elizabeth I (before her ascent to the throne), Sir Walter Raleigh, and notorious East London gang members the Kray twins. Today, the Tower is open to the public who can marvel in history through guided tours given by the Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters).

British Museum Library:

One of the largest libraries in the world, the British Library is estimated to contain between 170 to 200 million items from all over the globe. Originally holding the collections of Sir Hans Sloane, Sir Robert Cotton and Robert and Edward Harley, the library was inherited by George III in 1823, and from then doubled its number in books, manuscripts, periodicals that are all British, foreign, and contemporary and antique. The library has welcomed a plethora of iconic visitors, such as Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Virginia Woolf. The new British Library was opened in 1973 and opened its doors to the public in 1997 following a public inauguration by Queen Elizabeth, and upon its 50th anniversary that’s coming up in 2023, the museum aims to be the most creative, open and innovative institution of its kind.

This article was written by a quick house sale company We Buy Any House. If you’re wondering “how can I sell my house fast?”, head to the We Buy Any House website for more information relating to all property related enquiries.  

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