South Bank, London

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    Statue of Nelson Mandela

    by toonsarah Written Jan 26, 2014

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    This statue of Nelson Mandela has stood beside the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank for almost thirty years, but it took on particular poignancy in the days following the news of his death in December 2013. Many admirers left flowers and tributes here , and for a short period after his death a selection of quotes by the great man were projected on to the Royal Festival Hall.

    The statue, by Ian Walters, was commissioned by a former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, when he was leader of the Greater London Council., and was unveiled in 1985 by ANC president Oliver Tambo, at a time when Mandela was still imprisoned. At this time the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was very hostile to the Greater London Council, which she later abolished. It would be charitable to think that it was for this reason, rather than any opinion she may have held about Nelson Mandela, that she refused to visit the statue, though I have my doubts …
    ’The day after the unveiling Labour Party firebrand and anti-apartheid activist Tony Brand stood up in the House of Commons, complete with ANC T-shirt and goaded the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Would she find time, he asked, "to go to the South Bank to see the statue of Nelson Mandela erected by the GLC?" She replied with a terse "No".’

    The full inscription reads:
    ”THE STRUGGLE IS MY LIFE”
    NELSON MANDELA
    GAOLED 5th AUGUST 1962
    SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT
    12th JUNE 1964 FOR HIS ACTIONS
    AGAINST APARTHEID

    ERECTED BY THE GREATER LONDON COUNCIL
    UNVEILED BY OLIVER TAMBO
    PRESIDENT OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
    28th OCTOBER 1985

    NELSON MANDELA WAS RELEASED
    AFTER 27 YEARS' IMPRISONMENT
    11th FEBRUARY 1990

    AWARDED THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
    10th DECEMBER 1993

    INAUGURATED PRESIDENT OF THE
    REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND
    ITS GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY
    10th MAY 1994.

    If you’re walking along the South Bank do make the detour, up the steps to the right of the Festival Hall as you face it, to see and pay tribute to the great man.

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    The Shard

    by Britannia2 Written Jul 5, 2013

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    The Shard in evening light

    The Shard, also referred to as the Shard of Glass is a 72-storey skyscraper in London. Its construction began in March 2009. It opened to the public on 1 February 2013. Standing 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high, the Shard is the tallest building in the European Union. It is also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.
    The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck – the UK's highest – on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244.3 metres (802 ft).
    The Shard is home to offices, a hotel, restaurants and residential homes - a city in the sky I guess.
    You can visit the viewing area at the top - expensive but see the website for details.

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    THE SHARD

    by davidjo Updated Apr 30, 2013
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    The Shard is a London Pyramid (1016ft tall) which was constructed between 2009 and 2012 which will be open to the public in 2013. It is called the Shard as it has a broken glass tip to it and it will house offices, apartments and a hotel. The Italian Renzo Piano designed this monstrosity which is the second tallest building in Europe and will have a viewing deck on the 72nd floor (another expensive attraction for the public). There will be 10 apartments at the cool price of £50 million each ( no, this is not a typo).
    Several people have base jumped from there and on one occasion the French urban climber Alain Robert was spotted by security guards but now there is a court injunction against him to prevent him from entering the building. Prince Andrew has Abseiled from the 87th floor to raise money for his charity.
    It is now possible to visit the 68th floor "TOILETS"where there are magnificent views all over London. ^great views from 69th and 72nd floors also. you can book online for the craxy price of up to 25 pounds
    http://www.theviewfromtheshard.com/#plan-your-visit/booking-and-tickets

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    County Hall

    by mikey_e Written Dec 27, 2012

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    County Hall from the Bridge
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    The County Hall was once the seat of local government for the metropolis of London. This role is now played by the oddly shaped ball by Tower Bridge, but the County Hall continues to be a tourist and cultural attraction for Londoners and visitors alike. In part, County Hall derives its fame from the difficult relationship that existed between the Council and the British government in the period that led to the dissolution of the Greater London Council in the 1980s. Since then, the building was used for a number of different government and private functions, with its current usage dedicated to an aquarium, various low-brow horror shows and the London Film Museum. It was designed in Edwardian Baroque style and erected during the 1920s. If you aren’t interested in the horror maze or the aquarium, the ideal photo backdrop is still a good idea for a visit, as you can snap a few shots of yourself or others with the same background as the opening of the Hitchcock film Frenzy.

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    London IMAX

    by mikey_e Updated Dec 21, 2012
    IMAX over the arches
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    IMAX theatres are not new, but the technology that is used to enhance the technical forms of cinematic arts seem to advance every few years, opening a third way (in addition to content and form in the initial sense of the word) for the development of the seventh art. In recognition of these technical advances, the British Film Institute has opened up the London IMAX, a massive glass cylinder that stands not far from Waterloo Station on the Southbank of the Thames. The building was constructed in 1999, and was specially designed in order to insulate it from the noise and vibrations that might have been caused by the street traffic and subway lines around and below the IMAX. Both films and other performances (mainly operas) are shown at the IMAX, and such events can be quite popular, meaning that you should book your tickets well in advance if you’re hoping to partake of something at the IMAX.

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    Waterloo Station

    by mikey_e Written Dec 18, 2012

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    Lamp posts at the station
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    Waterloo Station is the UK’s busiest train station, and one of the busiest stations in all of Europe. Although a station has stood on this particular location since the 1840s, the current structure was not completed until 1922, after a series of expansions. The proximity of Waterloo to the City and to various other heavily populated and well-heeled sections of London ensured that its gradually increasing number of platforms seemed to be out of breath in the race to keep up with the steadily growing passenger numbers. The station is truly a city within a city, and features not only the ticketing offices and the various usual facilities that are associated with train stations (waiting rooms, coffee shops and restaurants) but also retail spaces and a police station. Given that the construction period for the new station spanned the First World War, the current building now contains a Victory Arch at the main pedestrian entrance to the facilities. The Arch is dedicated to the employees of the station who were killed during the Great War.

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    The Golden Hinde

    by mikey_e Written Dec 14, 2012

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    The Golden Hind from afar
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    London may be removed from the seas that made the British Empire powerful, but that doesn’t mean that the city is lacking in maritime flair. Apart from the HMS Belfast floating museum, visitors can also find Drake’s Golden Hind on display on the Thames’ south shores. The Golden Hind was used by Drake in the late 16th century in order to sail around the world. Drake was effectively a pirate with Royal backing (taking his role in the long tradition of proxy wars) and made a hefty return by attacking and robbing Spanish ships. After he returned to England, his ship was put to use for a trading company that focused on the Levant, and then was put on display. The original ship rotted away, but today there are various replicas on display throughout the British Islands. One such replica is on display here in London, not far from London Bridge. While it may make a good background for pictures, it is also used as an educational tool, and welcomes visits from school grounds wishing to get hands-on experiences with the 16th century maritime tradition.

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    London City Hall

    by mikey_e Written Dec 14, 2012

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    City Hall
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    London City Hall is one of those buildings that seems to have been designed with the hope that its architecture could somehow dissociate the institution from hundreds of years of urban history. Located adjacent to the Tower Bridge on the south side of the Thames, this particular structure is shaped sort of like a sphere captured on distorted film, as if it has been stretched by heat. It was originally supposed to be hanging over the Thames, but the Greater London Authority opted to have it sit on solid ground. The shape of the building was allegedly motivated by ecological concerns and was thus shaped the way it was in order to reduce surface space and energy usage, although studies after the fact seem to have proven this theory as bunk. It served as London House during the games, in part thanks to the exhibition and meeting space in the building, but has since returned to its role as simply municipal offices.

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    LARGEST SINGLE RUN ARTS CENTRE IN THE WORLD

    by davidjo Written Dec 5, 2012
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    The Southbank centre is the largest consists of the Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Purcell Room and the Poetry Library. There are too many performances and details to list here so just look at the website below.
    There is also a skateboarding area in the vicinity.
    http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/

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    There's not much of it left.

    by planxty Written Oct 24, 2012

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    Winchester Palace, Southwark, London, UK.

    Given how magnificent a structure it must have been in it's heyday, there really is not an awful lot of this left although it is probably surprising there is anything left at all due to history of the area. The structure I am referring to is the Winchester Palace on the South Bank.

    To put the thing into context, much of the South Bank of the Tames in what is now the Borough of Southwark was owned in medieaval times by the Church, specifically the Bishops of Winchester. When they travelled to the capital, they expected to be housed in great luxury and so Bishop Henry de Blois built the palace in the 12th century. An indication of how important a building it was is that King James I of Scotland was married here in 1424. You may wonder why a Scottish King would get married in Southeast London but it is historically recorded and the reason is that the uncle of the bride was the Bishopat the time.

    The gable wall you see in the image is from the Great Hall and you can see some of the outline of the Hall although there used to be many other associated buildings here, kitchens, pantries, all the things needed to sustain a lavish palace. Obviously, at that time, the modern buildings to the river side of Clink Street would not have existed and the Palace complex would have commanded a view of the river Thames across to the City. It really must have been magnificent.

    The building remained in use until the 17th century when it fell into commercial use and there was major damage by fire in 1814. They remained covered by subsequent building until the 1980's when they were revealed once again during the huge redevelopment of the area.

    Many people walking along what is part of the Thames Path just seem to scurry by this but it really is worth stopping for a little look just so you can try and remember what it was like all those years ago.

    The premises are adminitered by English Heritage and are visible from the road so there is no charge and you can see them any rime during daylight.

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    Interesting shopping and food.

    by planxty Written Oct 23, 2012

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    Gabriel's Wharf complex, Southbank, london, UK.
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    Wandering the Southbank now, the visitor will be struck with the vibrancy of the place but it is not so long ago that it was not so. It was fairly run down and one of the less salubrious areas of the city despite it's proximity to the City (the financial district). Things are much changed now, generally for the better with a huge regeneration. Unlike similar projects to the East, this was largely generated by local people and businessmen under the auspices of an organisation called Coin Street. The website attached to this tip is their homepage. As well as this place they have been responsible for developing social housing, the Bernie Spain Gardens adjacent and the regeneration of the nearby OXO Tower.

    Apart from the numerous and quite eclectic eating options here, the great thing about this place is that most of the small units contain one person galleries and the like which means you are quite likely to buy your art, jewellery or whatever from the person who made it. Not bad for cntral London. Even if you don't want to buy anything, this place is worth a look just to see what decent inner city re-generation can look like if done correctly.

    Incidentally, I am not endorsing the particular shop pictured as I didn't even go in, it is here merely to give you an idea of the type of retail unit you will encounter should you visit.

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    What an advertisement.

    by planxty Written Oct 23, 2012

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    OXO Tower, Southbank, London, UK.
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    One of the icons of the Southbank is the OXO Tower which is visible for a considerable distance around. It has quite an interesting history which you may wish to know about.

    The Tower and the associated modern mezzanine building now hosts residential units, various galleries and a very good if expensive restaurant but it was not always thus. The original tower and associated building was originally a power station for the surrounding area, built in the late 19th century. It was it's later history, however, that gives the place it's distinctive modern day appearance. Undoubtedly you will be aware of Oxo stock cubes and the company that manufactures these cubes bought the building in the late 1920's. They wanted to place illuminated "OXO" signs for advertising but were refused permission, so the architect Albert Moore very cleverly designed a series of windows that just coincidentally happened to spell OXO, therby circumventing the plannig restriction. I love that story.

    Perhaps it is a sign of the current recession but when I visited the area in October 2012, the place had several closed units and looked just slightly run down. Hopefully, it shall pick up again. If, like me, you cannot afford the restaurant which I believe has stunning views, you can still wander round and get a photo or two.

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    Catch it while you can.

    by planxty Written Oct 8, 2012

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    Sculpture exhibition, Southbank, London, UK.
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    I have made no secret on my VT pages about my views on modern art. Basically I don't like it, or maybe I just don't understand it, which is equally likely. the Southbank seems to have more than it's fair share of the phenomenon one way and another and, whilst researching the 2012 London VT Treasure Hunt, I came upon yet more of it in the form of a sculpture exhibition. Some of it was quite aesthetically pleasing and some of it, frankly baffling. I genuinely fail to see the artistic merit in some of these pieces. However, that is probably a discussion for another time and place.

    For those of you who are into this sort of thing, the eight pieces on display are by Jilly Sutton, Michael Lyons, Charles Hadcock, Martin Griffiths, Oliver Barratt and Sheila Vollmer. I must say they are not names that mean anything to me but a look at the attached website indicates to me that they are well-respected an it appears that public display of their work is quite a big deal.

    Finally, to the title of this tip, which I am writing in October 2012. This exhibition is only scheduled to be here until the end of 2012 so, as I say, catch it while you can.

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    A most dramatic knight.

    by planxty Written Sep 20, 2012

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    Laurence Olivier statue, Southbank, London, UK.
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    If you were asked to name the greatest ever British classical actors a few names would srping to mind but undoubtedly high on everyone's list would be the late Baron Olivier, better known to all as Laurence Olivier, a huge presence on the British stage and worldwide screen for many decades. Although the great man died in 1989, he is still spoken of with reverence amongst thespians.

    Apart from the huge catalogue of wonderful performances, Baron Olivier has left something more of a legacy, specifically on the South Bank of the Thames in London. He was the founding director of the National Theatre outside which his statue so appropriately stands and occupied the post from 1963 - 1973.

    Without listing them all here, a look at the image of the plaque will show you the nature of the people who contributed to the statue. From Sir Anthony Hopkins to Mark Knopfler and Dame Joan Plowright to Equity (the Actors Union in the UK) it really is an impressive list and reflects the genius of the man.

    If you are walking along the Southbank, and I suggest you do as it is a great walk, pause for a minute here and look at the great man captured in his Hamlet pose. A lovely little statue.

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    City Hall

    by Britannia2 Written Apr 1, 2012
    City Hall

    This iconic building on the South Bank is City Hall - this is where the Mayor of London works out of and decisions on transport, planning and so on are made.
    You can visit parts of City Hall, Mondays to Thursdays from 8.30am to 6pm and Fridays from 8.30am to 5.30pm.
    They host regular exhibitions at City Hall, usually on topics relating to London or that have been created by Londoners. All exhibitions are free and open to everyone to see.

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