Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, London

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Parliament Square, SW1

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  • Houses of Parliament, London
    Houses of Parliament, London
    by antistar
  • The most beautiful clock face
    The most beautiful clock face
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  • Big Ben, London
    Big Ben, London
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  • grayfo's Profile Photo

    Houses of Parliament

    by grayfo Written Nov 17, 2014

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    Actually the Palace of Westminster; this is the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and is the second such building to sit on this site, although the original London residence of the Royal family was ravaged by fire here in 1512. The old home of parliament burnt down in 1834 and work to erect the current palace began in 1840 and lasted thirty years. There was also some major reconstruction work following German bombing in 1941.

    The tower and clock are known as Big Ben but really this is the name of the 16 ton bell which rings the hour.

    UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Grade I Listed (1970)

    Tours are available to visitors from the UK and overseas on Saturdays throughout the year and on most weekdays during Parliamentary recess.

    Adults: £25.00
    Children (5-15): £10.00
    Children (Under 5): Free

    June 2013

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    Parliament

    by solopes Updated Oct 22, 2014

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    Do you really expect that I write something about the parliament Houses and Big Ben? What for?

    Even if you have never been there you risk to know more than me, such is the popularity of them.

    At least from outside, the only sight that I had.

    London - United Kingdom
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    Corridors of power

    by toonsarah Updated Aug 16, 2014

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    Update August 2014: additional photo added

    This photo has to be one of the iconic images of London …

    … but how many of you think that it is a photo of Big Ben? In fact, Big Ben is the name of the bell inside the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster. And “Palace of Westminster” is the official name for the building which is home to the Houses of Parliament. This is because until 1512 the royal family lived where Parliament is now situated.

    Parliament is open to all members of the UK public and overseas visitors. You can watch laws being made, attend debates and committees, tour the buildings, and if you’re a resident of the UK, climb the clock tower. I’ve never been to a debate or on a tour, but I’m lucky that my job has led to me being invited to receptions here on several occasions. There is an incredible sense of history in this building – echoes of the weighty decisions that have been made here, the great statesmen and women who’ve walked these corridors, the major events witnessed here. If you get the opportunity to go inside I would certainly recommend it if you have any interest in history or in politics.

    To attend a debate on most days you simply need to join the queue outside St Stephen’s entrance, although you may need to wait an hour or two. Make sure you check that the House is sitting though – details are available on the website below, including recess dates. And because Prime Minister's Question Time (on a Wednesday morning) is by far the liveliest and most popular session of every week, you can't just turn up for that. Admission is usually only available for UK residents and should be arranged in advance via their MP, though both overseas visitors and UK residents without tickets can queue but will only gain entrance if there is space after ticket-holders. Security these days of course is very tight, so come prepared for your bags, and your body, to be searched.

    Both UK residents and overseas visitors can tour Parliament on Saturdays and on selected weekdays during Parliamentary recesses. A guided tour costs £25 for adults, £20 for concessions and £10 for children 5-15. You can book in advance or try your luck on the day at the ticket office located next to the Jewel Tower, opposite the Houses of Parliament. Audio tours are cheaper (adults £17.50, concessions £15, one child free and £7 for any additional children) and tickets are booked the same way. If you’re a UK resident you can also arrange a place on a free tour through your MP.

    Houses of Parliament Houses of Parliament
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    London is Full of Green Spaces

    by cleocat Written Feb 5, 2014

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    Hyde Park must be the best known London park, but you will find each suburb has at least one great park. In summer the parks are very popular and over weekends Hyde Park can be as busy as Brighton beach in high summer.

    Hype Park is enormous and a quick walk from one side to the other will take around half an hour, Next to Hyde Park is also Regent's Park and St James Park. Further out is Kew Gardens, Richmond Park in the South-West and Valentine's Park in the North-East.

    Squirrel in Hyde Park
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    Richard I Coeur-de-Lion statue.

    by breughel Updated Nov 7, 2013

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    Richard I Coeur-de-Lion statue.

    This is a wonderful statue in the wonderful architectural surrounding of Westminster Palace.
    Richard I of England (1157 – 1199) Cœur de Lion - the Lionheart was King of England, Duke of Normandy, and Count of Anjou.
    This heroic and iconic king of England did speak only French and during his ten years reign spent only a few months in England. He lived in his Duchy of Aquitaine, in the southwest of France, when he was not fighting somewhere in France or being one of the leaders of the third Crusade.

    The bronze equestrian statue (which underwent a renovation in 2009) is from Marochetti a favourite sculptor of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and was installed in 1860 on the granite pedestal in front of the House of Lords with the name Coeur de Lion written in French.
    The cost of erecting the statue was paid by public subscription.
    The bas-relief panels for the sides of the pedestal are also from Marochetti. They show Richard's victory over the Saracens at Ascalon and the dying Richard pardoning Bertram de Gourdon who had shot at him with a crossbow causing a fatal injury.

    Richard I Coeur-de-Lion statue. Richard I Coeur-de-Lion - House of Lords.
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  • antistar's Profile Photo

    Houses of Parliament

    by antistar Updated Oct 29, 2013

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    The seat of British power for a thousand years. Originally this site was home to King Canute, the legendary king so prideful he believed his command alone could hold back the waves. It continued as a Royal Residence, under its official name the Palace of Westminster, until King Henry VIII vacated it for York Place. The Parliament had been meeting in the palace for some centuries already, but now the building was solely for the use of the two Houses of Parliament: the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

    Guy Fawkes and his Catholic co-conspirators famously attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th November 1605 - a date no English child is allowed to forget. Two centuries later it was destroyed anyway by an accidental fire. Its replacement, the building we see today, with its Gothic style representing a conservative legacy, has become an icon for democracy and London all over the world, especially its later adjunct, Big Ben.

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    Never in the afternoon.

    by breughel Updated Oct 19, 2013

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    Don't worry; it is not my intention to explain, once more, that Big Ben is not the name of the tower but that of the bell, etc., etc.

    I just want to inform you that the afternoon is not the good moment to take a photo of the Parliaments' façade on the river. Look at my miserable pic. A terrible contre-jour! Btw I was glad to read in my dictionary that the English use the French word contre-jour (a heritage from the French speaking Richard Coeur de Lion ?).
    Get up early, best on a sunny morning, if you want to see something on your photo.

    If like me you spent your morning looking (with some delight) at the torture chambers of the Tower of London and reached the Parliament in the late afternoon you will not regret your late arrival if you walk to Parliament Square and St Margaret St. especially if the August sun is shining.

    What is a pleasure for the visitor and his camera is that honey-coloured stone used all over the building and that makes such beautiful effect on photos. Actually when the Parliament, after the nearly complete destruction by fire in 1834, was rebuild between 1840 and 1860 in a Gothic style on a neo-classical principle of symmetry, the stonework of the building was a sand-coloured magnesian limestone from Anston (South Yorkshire).
    This stone decayed due to pollution and was progressively replaced by Clipsham Stone, a honey-coloured limestone from the county of Rutland between 1930 and 1994. And that's what we see now in the late sun.

    Of course, if it is raining you can go on any time of the day. Your photos will be … neutral wet.

    No photos in the afternoon! Big Ben on the sunny side. Honey-coloured stonework.
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  • antistar's Profile Photo

    Big Ben

    by antistar Updated Jul 10, 2013

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    This is London. Thames TV, the now defunct London television station, had as its logo the major landmarks of London - Tower Bridge, the Post Office Tower, St. Paul's Cathedral... But of all the icons of the capital Big Ben says London the loudest, with each chime of the great bell, the Big Ben the clock tower is named after. It's now more famous than the building it was adjoined to: Westminster Palace - the Houses of Parliament.

    The chiming of Big Ben has become ingrained in the British psyche. The bells ring in the New Year on televisions across the country. They announce the News at Ten every night. During World War 2 the bells of Big Ben rang out on radio stations around the planet on BBC World Service, to British soldiers fighting in every part of the globe, announcing night after night that Britain had not fallen.

    It's probably why Big Ben was voted Britain's most popular landmark.

    Big Ben, London Big Ben, London Big Ben, London Big Ben, London
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    Victoria Tower

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jun 24, 2013

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    The Victoria Tower is the square tower at the south-west end of the Palace of Westminster in London facing south and west onto Black Rod's Garden and Old Palace Yard. At 98.5 metres it is slightly taller than the more famous Elizabeth Tower - Big Ben.
    The tower was originally named "The King's Tower" because the fire of 1834 which destroyed the old Palace of Westminster occurred during the reign of King William IV.

    Victoria Tower Victoria Tower Victoria Tower Victoria Tower Victoria Tower
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    Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Jun 24, 2013

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    The Elizabeth Tower's fame has surpassed that of the Palace itself. The structure has largely become synonymous with Big Ben the heaviest of the five bells it houses. The tower was completed in 1858. The Elizabeth Tower (previously called the Clock Tower) named in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
    Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London and often extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower.
    The tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of both London and England.

    Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben
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  • kharmencita's Profile Photo

    Parliament House with the Big Ben

    by kharmencita Updated Apr 30, 2013

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    This is so far one of the most impressive and magnificent gothic designed Masterpiece Work of Art in the History of England. Located in the heart of London, England, UK. It took them more than 32 years to build and rebuilt this colossal building architecture after most part of it was destroyed by fire and some parts demolished as a result after the bombing during the second World War.
    Sir Charles Barry with his assistant, Augustus Welby Pugin were the architect designers responsible for these English Gothic styles and decorations mostly seen on the Palace walls. The Parliament House which is also known as the Westminster Palace had unfortunately undergone many reconstructions and rebuilding to restore its original historical beauty and since it became one of the most protected UNESCO architectural heritage Site the Londoners are trying their best to preserve and keep it safe from dreadful air pollution and from threatening rapid Urban infrastructural developments.

    The Parliament House and the Big Ben which here refers to the Clock Tower, although in reality the name Big Ben is the Big Bell inside the Clock Tower, are popular subject of photographic interest especially when you are taking a morning river cruise or viewing from the giant Ferris Well ( London Eye)a ride on a clear sunny afternoon, you will have a wonderful Panorama with the Parliament and the Big Ben! Or just walking round and about the building to gather some architectural impressions. Also guided Tours inside the Parliament is possible to have an idea about England´s ways of politics and the building´s 1,000 years history. Tours of Parliament take place on Saturdays throughout the year, and daily during the summer opening.

    The Parliament House luckily i have had a good weather! the rapid weather changes at 5:00 p.m. Big Ben taken thru a running Bus window! standing on a Bridge before the Parliament House
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    Tour of Parliament

    by zadunajska8 Written Feb 28, 2013

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    The "Mother of Parliaments". It's surely hard to not be impressed by the gothic Palace of Westminster, home to Britain's parliamentary democracy.

    You can arrange a visit to parliament in a number of different ways. On Saturdays or during recess (when parliament is not sitting) you can buy tickets (in advance) for a tour. Otherwise you can arrange a tour through a member of either house (Lords or Commons), but these tours are fairly limited in numbers and so in great demand. I was lucky enough to have a tour arranged by my friend and local MP, Stephen Lloyd.

    You can also attend parliament to watch debates in either house, or at committee meetings. Again, some of these need to be booked in advance (particularly Prime Ministerial and Ministerial question times). It's best to see the website of Parliament for up to date details.

    Tours start from Westminster Hall, which is the oldest part of the palace dating from 1097. It is said that King William II (son of William the Conqueror) had slightly high expectations when he stated that this vast hall (the largest in Europe at the time) would "do as a parlour". King William had to make do with this being his great hall, and it remains so to this day. At the time the roof would have been supported by pillars, but in 1393 during the reign of Richard II it was decided to remove the pillars and install a new hammerbeam roof instead, which opens up the space as we see it today. Westminster Hall is the only place inside the palace where you are allowed to take photographs and they really do mean this. If you try to take photos elsewhere they will remove your camera (or mobile phone) and you will not get it back!

    A tour should also take you to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Do not attempt to sit down in either house as this is a criminal offence if you are not a legitimate member of that house! Again, this rule is strictly enforced. What you will notice is that both chambers are suprisingly small. Apparently this is by design as having such a small cramped space (there are not enough seats for all the members in either House) makes for more fiery debates. This might make it more exciting for the politicans concerned but I'm sure that opinions may vary as to whether or not this is really that constructive an idea.

    Other highlights are the Norman gate, Queens Robing room, Princes Chamber, the Royal Gallery and, of course, Central lobby, between the two chambers.

    A guided tour means that you will have a well informed guide who can explain all the strange customs and quirks of the place (such as the little notes left on a board for technophobic members of the Lords and the concept of "toeing the line").

    A visit to parliament is well worth it but the gift shop is overpriced as they know everyone wants to take something home with that famous portcullis logo. The cafeteria next to Westminster Hall which is open to visitors is pretty dreadful. The coffee is ok, but not the food. If you are getting a tour arranged by a member then also get them to meet you afterwards and take you for lunch at one of the restaurants in Portcullis house which are great. You must be accompanied by a member to be able to go here.

    When you enter the Palace of Westminster you have to pass through a security check. It's just like going through an airport and the rules about what you can take are much the same.

    'Big Ben' and the Houses of Parliament Cromwell outside the Houses of Parliament Houses of Parliament Westminster Hall Westminster Hall
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  • Regina1965's Profile Photo

    Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

    by Regina1965 Updated Jan 15, 2013

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    What is more majestic in London than The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben? Back in the 11th century it was the Royal Residence, The Palace of Westminster, as King Edward the Confessor moved his court here. King Henry VIII moved his court out of The Palace of Westminster to Whitehall Palace in 1530.

    It is now the seat of House of Lords (since 1265) and House of Common (since 1547).

    In 1834 the palace was destroyed in fire leaving only a small part of it intact, including Westminster Hall - it was then rebuilt to connect the remaining parts and finished in 1870.

    Big Ben (1859) is one of three towers of The Houses of Parliament also called Clock Tower - the bell in the tower is actually called Big Ben. It is one of London's most famous landmarks - 96 meters high. You can set your clock by it as it is said to be extremely prompt.

    There are guided tours of the Parliament. Hope to be able to visit it one day and add more information on it.

    Big Ben. Big Ben - one of London��s most famous landmarks. The Houses of Parliament. In interview by the Houses of Parliament. The Victoria Tower.

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  • mikey_e's Profile Photo

    Palace of Westminster

    by mikey_e Written Dec 10, 2012

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    The Palace of Westminster may still be considered a Royal Palace, but in practice it is the seat of the legislative body of government, and is also referred to as the Palace of Parliament. While a Palace has stood on this site since the 11th century, prior to the Norman Conquest, the current building dates from the first half of the 19th century, after the initial palace was destroyed by a fire. Although various other locations for the new buildings of Parliament were considered, it was ultimately decided that the new Parliament should be built on the old site, given its historical significance. The new structure was designed in the neo-Gothic style, as it was believed to be conservative and more representative of the values of parliamentary monarchy than the competing neo-Classical style, associated with, among other buildings, the American White House. Apart from the iconic Clock Tower, which houses Big Ben, the complex is marked by two other towers: the Victoria Tower, named after Queen Victoria and constructed to look like a castle keep; and the Central Tower, which was meant to provide proper ventilation for the building, but failed to do so. A number of turrets can be seen all along the building, and indeed the King had expressed his desire for the Parliament to remind viewers of a castle or fortress, in order to strengthen the metaphorical implications of the building’s design. The interior of the structure has a number of different components that represent the division of British government and politics. There are the various chambers intended for Royals (Queen’s Room, Princes Chambers), the Aristocracy (the Lords’ Chamber and Peers’ Lobby), the Masses (Members’ Lobby and Commons Chamber). In order to complete the trifecta of Parliamentary Democracy, Westminster Hall, the oldest section of the building, was used as the seat of the High Court of Justice, but only until the 1880s. Again, only UK residents may visit the Palace, and this only through contact with their MPs. For those of us without the honour of being resident in the UK, there is ample opportunity to photography this venerable institution of British democracy from the sidewalk, provided it’s not crowded with supplicants and protestors.

    Houses of Parliament Houses of Parliament Parliament from the River Victoria Tower and the Union Jack Cromwell Statue out front of Parliament
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  • mikey_e's Profile Photo

    Big Ben

    by mikey_e Written Dec 10, 2012

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    I’m not sure that there is any landmark more iconic of London than Big Ben. Even the 2012 Olympics and the monumental architecture they implied could not create something more intricately linked to the image of London abroad than this massive clock. Erected in 1858, it is also known as the Elizabeth Tower, and is attached to the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the British Parliament. The name Elizabeth was given to the tower for Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee (2012); previously, it was simply the Clock Tower. Built in neo-Gothic style, the Clock Tower was considered to be an integral part of the plan for the new Palace of Westminster, the old one having burnt down in the 1830s. The clock is famous for its accuracy, despite the fact that two of the faces of the clock were damaged by bombardments in the Blitz. The bell of the tower is what is truly known as Big Ben, which chimes the hours. Unfortunately, those of us who are not residents of the UK cannot visit the Tower. If you are a resident, you can only visit it by contacting your Member of Parliament in order to schedule a tour.

    Big Ben from afar Big Ben and Parliament Big Ben Close-up of Big Ben Big Ben in the distance
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