One of the most stunning buildings in the City of London is 30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin or the Swiss Re building.
Opened in May 2004, this 180 metre high building is a stunning. It gets its nickname from the shape and colour of the building which does look a tiny bit like a gherkin I suppose. It certainly stands out in the London skyline, a fabulous addition to this vibrant city.
Located in the heart of the City of London, it is filled with offices - half of the floors are occupied by Swiss Re (Insurance) and the rest by various other companies.
Unfortunately the building is not open to the public, but I am hoping to get into it one day, perhaps for a job interview or something.
Situated between Threadneedle Street and Cornhill is the impressive Royal Exchange building. Its eight majestic columns attract your attention and respect and draw you up to the entrance for a closer look.
Originally built in 1565, it was destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times over the centuries. In more recent times, until 1991/2, it was home to the London International Futures Exchange.
Since then the building has been beautifully restored and these days is home to some gorgeous designer stores and every girls favourite place - Tiffany's!
If you walk past Leadenhall Market, make sure you go inside. One of the best bits about it is the Ceiling which is full of windows and brightly coloured panels.
Leadenhall originally got its name from a mansion that stood nearby that had a Lead Roof. This has long since gone, but the name remains.
The Roof/ceiling covers what is these days mostly a smallish shopping precinct which has permanent shops and some market stalls selling food.
Built on the site of the notorious Newgate Prison, The Old Bailey is where the infamous Oscar Wilde stood trial in 1895, Dr Crippin in 1910 and Peter Sutcliffe in 1981.
The bronze lady holds the Scales of Justice in one hand and the Sword of Freedom in the other. She faces the place where criminals were executed.
Above the doors of the Old Bailey are the words:
"Defend the Children of the Poor and Punish the Wrongdoer" See the other photo for this tip.
The public can attend when the court is in session Monday-Friday, There are two public galleries with entrances at Warwick St, off Old Bailey and Newgate St. Children under 14 are not permitted.
Closed: Christmas, New Year, Easter and public holidays.
The Royal Horse Guards will continue to perform their duties without a word. Please do not annoy them by trying to speak with them. They are just doing their job, which happens to include allowing a tourist, such as myself, the honor (honour) of taking their photograph free of charge. The Changing of the Guard takes place everyday, when the Household Cavalry rides from Hyde Park, via The Mall, to Whitehall for the 11.00 am changeover.
Mon-Sat: 11:00 Sun: 10:00
Dismounting Ceremony: daily, 16:00
Admission is FREE
Not as eleborate as the "Changing of the Guards" at Buckingham Palace, but also no where near as crowded.
On an impulse I decided that I should - just once - climb the Monument. Built in 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London - it stands in Monument Street and celebrates the rebuilding of the city - (this time in brick!). A Doric column designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the 311 steps lead to a viewing platform. The Monument, still the tallest free standing column in the world, is 202 feet high - the exact distance from it to Pudding Lane (see other photo) - the site where the fire started.
Don't attempt the climb if you are feeling unwell - they can't stretcher you down!!! (I asked). It is a long steep, vertiginous climb and you will pay 2 pounds for the privilege. The view is worth it though! Oh and they give you a certificate when you get back down to prove that you made the climb successfully!
I am very much grateful to Andrew Duncan for having devoted one chapter of his “Secret London” book to the livery companies in London, which made me want to spend an entire day in The City and look for as many of their buildings as possible (together with a visit at the Museum of London).
Livery Companies are very unique to London, to the City of London to be precise. This is the London (Great Britain?) specific term for guilds and from what I have read it is more of a fraternity, as it involves a high degree of social commitment for their members. But that’s something I shall describe in the local customs section. Here I want to concentrate on and motivate you to walk around the City in search of the magnificent livery buildings.
According to Andrew Duncan, London has 108 livery companies, of which 36 still have the traditional halls, huge rooms, originally meant to feed their members, but still in use now for banquets and gatherings. Almost every livery building is not accessible for the usual visitor, however there are exceptions. But already the buildings are well worth to admire them from the outside. And it is fun to look at the coat of arms at the outside and try to find out how it came into being.
Andrew Duncan’s book has a map with exact location of the 36 halls, and I highly recommend to buy his book, but if you cannot get hold of it before you go to London, Wikipedia has also a list of all 108 and you might take note of their adresses already.
I found eight but my most favourite was the Cutlers’ Hall (photo 1 and 5) with a magnificent terracotta frieze on the façade.
The Leadenhall market is easily missed, which is a shame as it is very ornate. There has been a food market on the site since the 14th Century.
The current building however is Victorian and was built in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones, who also built the more famous Billingsgate Fish Market.
Inside there are sometimes market stalls, but there are also regular shops inside too. It is a popular place with city workers (Lloyds the Marine Insurance company is right next door). However this has the effect that it gets pretty dead at weekends.
The Guildhall is the adminstrative centre for London. The buildings on this site have had this purpose for over 800 years (it is linked in with the Mayor of Londons role, which was 800 years old in 1989).
For many hundreds of years, the hall here was used to try some of the more notorius crimes in London. Probably one of the most famous of which was the trial which condemned to death one of the Gunpowder Plot gang (the Gunpowder Plot was an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament by Guy Fawkes in 1605. 36 barrels of gunpowder were smuggled in to the Houses of Parliament, but before they could be blown up, the men involved were caught and sentenced to death).
The Iceni Queen Boadicea statue was placed near The Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) in 1902 by the London City Council. Ironically, this great woman warrior led an army of around 120,000 against the Romans in London about the time of AD 60. A mother, outraged by the rape of her two daughters, and the death of her husband, rallied the people together for battle, and was responsible for the deaths of nearly 80,000 Britons.
For a wonderful, quick 2 page story about her life, see the website below.
One New Change is a new shopping center in the City next to St. Paul´s Cathedral - east of it. It has got a Roof Terrace with fantastic views of St. Paul´s Cathedral, I doubt that there are better views of the Cathedral than here on the Roof Terrace.
There is a restaurant and a bar on the roof, Madison, but the Roof Terrace is seperate from them and bringing your drink from the bar to the terrace is not allowed. While I was on the roof once some German guys were drinking and they were told to leave or stop drinking. This being so high up it is understandable that drinking is not allowed here. A security guard oversees that everything is ok up there.
The entrance to the Roof Terrace is free and it is a lovely place to sit and enjoy these fantastic views of the London skyline, especially on a sunny day. I went there on a warm day in February, 10 degrees, still and sunny. I sat there for hours.
The view of St. Paul´s Cathedral is unique, one can get a close look at the apostles, which look like they are quarrelling with the city.
There is also a good view of the smaller dome of the Old Bailey which matches with the dome of St. Paul´s Cathedral.
On a sunny day, with the sun so low in the sky, it was difficult taking good photos up there.
It is open 7 days a week from 10.
One New Change shopping center is a glass pane building, very modern looking, on 8 floors, the public Roof Terrace being on the 6th floor. There are 60 shops here and offices.
The Mansion Houseis the Official Residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It was built in 1753 and is a famous London landmark.
There are some very impressive state rooms inside, including one built to an Egyptian theme.
Originally there were 11 prison cells inside and a magistrates court as the mayor was the chief magistrate in London! Emmeline Pankhurst who campaigned for women to get the vote was imprisoned in this building.
It is only possible to visit in a group, and this must be prebooked.
The Old Bailey is on a Street of the same name in the City of London. The street itself is very short, you can walk along the length of it in a coule of minutes. The Old Bailey Building is on one end of the street.
This building is also referred to as the new Central Criminal Courts, and the building you see here opened in 1907. It is on the site of the old Newgate prison that was famous for being both extremely rough and also extremely smelly.
In rememberance of the smell, there are some special occasions when judges carry in a small posie of flowers to help mask the foul odour that used to be present at the site.
The Barbican is Europe's largest multi-arts and conference venue. The Barbican presents a year-round programme of art, music, film theatre and education.
This place is really huge check out there website and get an idea of where you're going because you can get lost up there. I went to see Madredeus and it was great !!!!
This gate is one of the original eight London city gates and is the only one remaining. It dates back to a wooden structure from the 13th century which was rebuilt several times. The current gate was erected after the great fire of 1666 by Sir Christopher Wren. In the 18th and 19th century, the other sven gates were demolished while the Temple Bar Gate remained until 1878 when it was carefully dismantled and its stones were stored. It was bought by a rich brewer and erected as a gateyway at his house in Hertfortshire. In 1984 it was bought back by an organization called "Temple Bar Trust" and erected again at its current place. It serves now as an entrance to Paternoster Square.
The original location of this gate was at the border between the City of London and the City of Westminster, just at the place where "Strand" becomes "Fleet Street".