Many buildings and sights are beautifully illuminated at night in London. So it makes sense to wander around the town in the so called blue hour and look out for photo opportunities.
Not only the historic sights, but also the modern skyscrapers in London's business districts are well worth seeing by night.
Especially around Christmas, the squares and shopping streets of the city centre are equipped with lit up decorations. Among the most popular places at night all year round is Piccadilly Circus with its neon light advertisements.
"Switched on London" was a Lighting Festival which was held for over a week at the beginning of February in the late 2000 in the Pool of London around London Bridge.
For the first time it took place in 2007 and annual repetitions were planned. During the event several sights in the area were temporaily illuminated in artistic ways. Among other landmarks the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, London Bridge, City Hall and the Design Museum were involved in the event in 2007.
In both February 2007 and 2008 I visited some of the illuminations with a lovely bunch of VT members and we really enjoyed a walk along the banks of the river Thames in between Tower Bridge and London Bridge (Pool of London).
Unfortunately the "Switched on London" event has been discontinued.
Former website: http://www.switchedonlondon.co.uk/
I wonder if I can call this a favorite; it's more a reality of the heterogeneous architecture of London since the restrictions on building heights originally imposed by the London Building Act of 1894 have been eased, especially since the 1980s and a marked run to tall buildings in the last ten years. Between my first visit in 1961 and now it seems to me that I'm on another architectural planet.
The contrasts are surprising, amusing, if not shocking. I just put here two photos made from the Tower of London towards the City.
The medieval tower or turrets from the London Tower, the "Ten Trinity Square" from 1922 topped by a series of sculptures and originally built for the Port of London Authority, the "Gherkin" (Swiss Re Building - 2003) which I call "le suppositoire" and further the Tower 42 (1980).
After that you will understand that I prefer the views on Rome or Paris aside from economic considerations.
Located in Kensignton Park just across from the Royal Albert Hall you'll find the impressive Albert Memorial, built for the German prince 15 years after his death.
Fondest memory: Check out the bronze statues of Albert inside the momument which is loosely based on a medieval market cross.
St Margrets Church - the church of the House of commons sinse 1614 .
Visitors are welcome to this beautiful church.
Fondest memory: The present building consecrated in 1523 is the third of the site.
Winows commemorate Caxton and Milton who worshipped here, and Raleigh, who is buried in front the altar, under the glorious window made for King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon in 1520.
After about nine hundred years of service as a parish church for the people of Westminster St Margaret's was plased under the care of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster by Parliament in 1973. It is stiil in regular use for worship and for recitals of music.
Westminster Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge over the River Thames between Westminster and Lambeth.
The current bridge, opened in 1862, is the second on the site and replaced an earlier bridge that had opened in 1750 and had the tendency to sway alarmingly.
Westminster Bridge is a seven-arch wrought iron bridge which has gothic detailing by Charles Barry (the architect of the Palace of Westminster). It is the only bridge over the Thames that spans seven arches and is the oldest bridge in the central area of the river Thames.
Fondest memory: The bridge is predominantly green, the same colour as the leather seats in the House of Commons which is on the side of the Palace of Westminster nearest the bridge.
This is in contrast to Lambeth Bridge which is red, the same colour as the seats in the House of Lords and is on the opposite side of the Houses of Parliament.
Trafalgar square is the busy heart of London full of pigeons and tourists...
Nelsons column comemorates the battle of trafalgar. Riotous new year celebrations take place here.
Fondest memory: It was built between 1840 and 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It consists of a 5.5m (18ft) statue of Nelson on top of a 56 m granite column. The statue faces south, towards the Palace of Westminster.
The top of the Corinthian column is decorated with bronze acanthus leaves cast from British cannon. The square pedestal is decorated with four bronze panels, cast from captured French guns, depicting Nelson's four great victories.
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. Originally Buckingham House, it was built for John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, in 1703, and was purchased from his descendant Sir Charles Sheffield in 1762 by King George III, becoming the Royal residence in 1837.
Tour the palace Aug-sept, to see state appartments. Including: Grand Staircaise
Green, Throne, White, Music, Blue rooms, also Picture Gallery
Adult - 13.5 BPs
Fondest memory: The winged statue is the Queen Victoria memorial. With a gilded statue of "victory".
Just read in the Telegraph of 24 Oct 2009.
"Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary, has criticised the Prince of Wales for interfering with a high-profile housing development because he did not approve of its style of modern architecture."
I must say that, when looking at the architectural landscape of London and remembering how it looked half a century ago at the time of my first visits, I'm not really enthusiast about the evolution.
Maybe I like harmony and that's not what I find nowadays looking at London. There is big contrast - an architectural shock - between modern buildings and older ones crammed on each other.
Some modern architecture is interesting but the narrow streets, the absence of perspective make me understand the reluctance of Prince Charles.
Favorite thing: Coming around the corner from the Lloyd's Building you might not be expecting to see a wonderfully preserved piece of mid-Victorian design - but "Voila" - there it is. The Leadenhall Market is a remnant of Dickensian London, and is still a popular place for foodsellers during the week. (Weekends, not so much!) It was designed by Sir Horace Jones (1819-1887) and was opened in 1880. Recently it was beautifully restored.
Favorite thing: The Blue Guide to Architecture in Britain calls this the "symbolic centre of the City of London." It was designed by architect Sir William Tite between 1841 and 1844, and opened officially by Queen Victoria. Originally a stock exchange, the building now houses an array of luxury shops. This is certainly a major center of the capitalist world - and when you stand at the intersection of Cornhill, Threadneedle, and Poultry Streets, you are also at the intersection of much of London's History!
Favorite thing: Opened in 2004, Norman Foster's version of "A Cigar is Just a Cigar." Other wags (like yooperprof) enjoy calling it "the Erotic Gherkin". This interestingly-shaped tower in unlike any other building in London - or England, for that matter. This is easily the most provocative building in London to completed in the last 30 years. 180 meters (591 feet) tall, with forty stories.
You'll see dragon statues all over London, I snapped the first two pics while on the Inns of Court walk with London Walks. The second photo is of the Dragon on top of the Temple Bar marker in front of the Royal Court of Justice. The third pic was taken somewhere near the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington. The fourth pic was taken near the Holborn viaduct.
The City of London's coat of arms features two dragons holding a shield with the words Domine Dirige Nos, Latin for "Lord, guide us".
This is one of my favourite parts of London. Many tourists come here to visit the British Museum, but not all of them take the time to explore its pretty squares and historic streets, which I think is a shame.
Part of its charm lies in its coherence. Despite many modern intrusions, it is still easy to capture the spirit of the development of this area by the local Russell family in the 17th and 18th centuries, when they turned it gradually it into a fashionable residential area. More recently, in the early 20th century, it gave its name to the Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists, many of whom lived in the area. These included writers Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster, and artists such as Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, and Roger Fry.
Fondest memory: One of the delights of Bloomsbury is the large number of leafy squares, many (but not all) open to the public. These include:
Bedford Square – one of my favourites in terms of architecture, with some of the best-preserved Georgian town houses in London, although unfortunately for most of us the square itself is only open to residents (photos 1-3)
Russell Square – has a central area large enough to almost feel like a small park (its open-air café is a pleasant place to pause for refreshments), the grand Russell Hotel on its east side, the 1930s bulk of Senate House, part of the University of London, on the west and on the south side some more lovely houses (photos 4 & 5)
Bloomsbury Square – another of the open spaces (and actually more rectangle than square), with more lovely houses on three sides and on the fourth, east side, the ornate Victoria House, the one time home of the Royal Liverpool and Victoria insurance company, now an office block where until recently I was lucky enough to work
Queens Square – there is often a good fruit and veg stall here, and the Queen’s Larder pub in the south west corner is a great summer evening drinking spot (OK winter evenings too – it’s quaint and cosy but rather small)
Tavistock Square – not quite so attractive as the others, but notable, unfortunately, as the site of one of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, to which there is a small memorial in the north east corner of the square
In July 2008, there was a bit of a press splash about an idea to re-create the 'Skylon'.
The 'Skylon' was an impressive piece of public art, and was probably the most talked about feature of the 1951 festival of Britain. It was only standing (if that is wthe right word) for a year because of fears that it might collapse and / or be struck by lightening.
The long (300 foot) elegant object was designed in such a way that it seemed to float, vertically, over the south bank of the Thames. A design for the 21st century would look the same, but new technology means it might last 60-100 years.
I really hope that the idea comes off. I hope even more that thgey place it nect to the London eye (the giant wheel) so people like me can make a few off-colour smutty jokes about the two together.