Near the Tower of London complex, just by the ticket office there are a row of souvenir shops and snack bars in a covered arcade, just above the vault, offering the usual tourist junk and tasty meals at inflated prices for the visitors
Commonly known as the Tower of London construction began with the White Tower which was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, which was used as a prison although its main purpose was supposed to be a palace for its royal Residents. The Tower is actually several buildings protected by a wall and a moat and was expanded several times by various kings such as Richard the Lionheart, Edward I and Henry III in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Tower has been used for several purposes throughout the centuries including a menagerie, treasury, armoury, public records office, the Royal Mint and the home of the Crown Jewels. the 16th and 17th centuries were the years that it was mainly used as a prison housing such people as Elizabeth I,
Now the Tower is a major tourist attraction and is a World Heritage Site and is open daily from 9 or 10 am to 4.30 pm with tickets running at about £20 per adult but you can buy a family ticket for £55 which will get 2 adults and 6 children through the gate.
Not surprisingly the Tower is famous for ghost stories
A statue of Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus Augustus, or Trajan the Roman Emperor from 53-117 A.D. stands just outside the entrance of Tower Hill Tube Station. Trajan was responsible for the Roman Empire extending its boundaries to the maximum extent during his era and was responsible for public building programs and a social welfare system while he was in power. He was born in Andalusia and he died of edema.
As iconic as the Tower Bridge may be in a visual sense, the Tower of London has an even more powerful hold on the imagination when thinking about the city. The Tower is officially known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, was built as part of the Norman Conquest of the British Isles (1066) and was used as both a fort (i.e. a protective centre for the regents) and a royal residence. As a fort, it always had a prison, but it was not used intensively as a place of incarceration until after the Tudors, when the Royal Family made the move to other palaces around London as their places of residence. At that point, the Tower of London housed more and more prisoners, as well as the crown jewels. After the Second World War it was turned into tourist attraction under state tutelage. The main component of the Tower is the White Tower, which was built as a keep that would be suitable as the residence of the sovereign. It was thus a complete castle, containing all aspects of safekeeping, residence and defense that would be required in mediaeval Europe. It was here, too, that the crown jewels were stored, as it was one of the best fortified places in all of Europe. Outside of the White Tower – so-called because of the white Kentish stone from which was constructed – is the innermost ward, which was the initial extent of the castle when it was first built. This was gradually taken up with the houses of the royal family as they grew, and thus the inner ward was built to allow for expansion (doubling, even) of the castle’s size. The enlargement was completed in Richard the Lionheart’s time, and it was sufficient until Edward the First’s time, when the Tower took on its current shape. It is slightly ironic that the Tower of London is now one of the city’s best known tourist attractions, as it was built by the Norman overlords in order to control their Saxon subjects. It is yet another example of how a symbol of oppression can be appropriated and integrated into the life of the city.
Tours, we usually don't do them, but here at the Tower of London, it is a MUST DO!
We had some time to wait for the tour, eventually the hour came, and so did our Beef-Eater, or proper term is "Yeoman Warder."
We had a great guide, a very funny and informative man. First, we learnt it was because of their position in the Royal Bodyguard, which permitted them to eat as much beef as they wanted from the king's table. Now I know how they got their name!
No microphone needed for our man, he had a big booming voice which we all could hear, and was pretty good with jokes too! He had served in the Army, a requisite they served in the armed forces with an honourable record for at least 22 years. I learnt and saw there are woman Beef - Eaters.
By doing this tour, I learnt so much that I wouldn't have known if I had been walking around on my own.
The tours run every 30 mins, starting at the main entrance and finishing an hour later
My visit to the Tower of London was one of the highlights of my London sightseeing.
Before walking too far, I saw the life-size sculptures of some of the Tower’s royal beasts. Three Lions, sculptured from wire mesh were crouching by the ruins of what was once the Lion Tower, situated at the main entrance. Further on, sitting on one of the walls, were wire mesh apes.
These were scattered around the Tower, as during the reign of King John in the early 1200s, animals lived at the Tower for over 600 years. Exotic animals were given as royal gifts.
The animals were kept at the Royal Menagerie for the entertainment and curiosity of the court.
The first royal beasts to arrive at the Tower - the lions, polar bear and elephant - came from Europe and North Africa, later Elephants, Tigers, Kangaroos and Ostriches lived in the Royal Menagerie.
I didn't find anymore sculptures, there maybe more though!
Our Beef-Eater told us the story of the Ravens.
They are here because of a Legend stating that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. It was Charles II, who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected.
Despite their having one wing clipped, some ravens do in fact go absent without leave. After the tour, I did manage to see the seven ravens at the Tower (the required six plus one spare!). They are situated next to the Wakefield Tower.
The Tower of London, usually known as the Tower, is a building in London, situated on the River Thames. Over the centuries it served as a fortress, royal palace, state prison, mint, garrison, museum and armory. The nearby Tower Bridge gets its name from this complex, which since 1988 on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
The "Tower of London" is controlled by the "Constable of the Tower." This is usually a higher military. His task is to manage the buildings, staff and under the "Tower of London". He also manages the crown and other royal objects during state occasions. He is appointed for a period of five years.
Most of us educated in the UK were at some time or other taken on a school trip to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. That was my first and last visit although I would walk or drive past the place at least once a week during my 50 years living in England.
However now living overseas I was keen to show these buildings to my Canadain family so made it to the last tour of the day around the Tower during the third week of August 2011.
It was a very interesting trip but with twin 5 year old grandchildren and with the warm day, it became too much for them so it turned out to be more of an endurance test for their Dad and myself to carry the children round on the tour. that apart it was very interesting made so by a Beefeater who clearly missed his vocation as a comedy act.
Legend has it that if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, England will fall. And, given that the closest that England has been to succumbing to invasion since 1066 was during the Second World War (during which the Tower's raven population plummeted to one), there may just be some truth to his legend!
The author Boria Sax came to the conclusion that, "the ravens were originally brought in to dramatise the alleged site of executions at the Tower".
Now that there is no longer a supply of freshly executed heads for the ravens to subsist on, they are fed a combination of meat, eggs, rabbit fur and kitchen scraps. The Tower's website also provides the following fascinating raven-related trivia (based on April 2011):
"Nobody knows when ravens first came to the Tower of London, but they've been associated with the Tower for centuries. Legend dictates that, if the ravens ever leave, the Tower will fall and the Kingdom will fall, so Charles II decreed that there must always be at least six ravens at the Tower. That tradition has been honored for more than 300 years.
* Seven ravens currently live at the Tower. Three are females; four are males.
* To keep the birds from flying away, the Raven Master clips their lifting feathers. The procedure doesn't hurt them in any way; it simply unbalances their flight so they won't stray from the Tower.
*Ravens have escaped occasionally. Grog was last seen outside an East End pub called the Rose and Punchbowl in 198 after living at the tower for 21 years (seven years longer than Sir Walter Raleigh).
* Occasionally, birds are dismissed for bad behavior. George was exiled to the Welsh Mountain Zoo in 1986 after developing an unhealthy taste for TV antennas, while two other ravens were banished in 1996 for "conduct unbecoming Tower residents."
* Ravens can live to a ripe old age. The oldest raven to live at the Tower was Jim Crow, who died at the age of 44. The oldest raven curently living at the Tower is Hardey, who is 26 years old.
Ravens are well fed: Each bird's daily ration includes 6 ounces of meat and bird-formula biscuits soaked in blood. Once a week the birds enjoy an egg, and they're occasionally given a rabbit (the fur is good for them). The ravens also enjoy scraps from the Tower's mess kitchen."
The photo is one of the very first postcards I ever bought. This was memento of a primary school trip to the Tower of London in the very early 1970s when I was about eight: my overwhelming memory of the event is one of hunger as my orange squash bottle leaked and soaked my sandwiches beyond redemption!
First built by William the Conqueror in early 1080s and this fortification has been added through the years since.
You'll find the Crown Jewels under armed guard in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
They are the greatest working collection of Crown Jewels in the world and priceless symbols of British monarchy.
This exhibition, open since April 2010, shows five hundred years of royal armour.
Visitors who have been at the Tower a few decades ago will observe that presently the part of spectacles has been markedly increased aiming at a younger public of visitors.
The display of the royal armour inside the White Tower is also spectacular. Lights moving from bleu to red and green reflect on the armours and are somewhat excessive because they mask the real colours or gilded decoration.
More spectacular is the choice of the armours, mainly those of King Henri VIII. For obvious reasons everybody stops at this field and tournament armour from 1540 on my photo 1.
Henri VIII was 49 when this armour was made for him in Greenwich. It is unlikely he competed in tournament.
The other magnificent silvered and engraved armour was also made in Greenwich around 1515 for Henry VIII at the time of his marriage with Katherine of Aragon; the horse armor was made in Brussels (photo 2 - photos were difficult due to the terrible lights).
My photo 3 is that of a field armour garniture and half shaffron from the Earl of Worcester (1570). It has the latest technical advances but weighs 59 kg, the heaviest armour of that time!
Located along the River Thames, and surrounded by a (now) dry moat, the Tower of London was both a fort and a prison. Queens were beheaded here, princes murdered, and traitors tortured.
We went into the various buildings and towers including the Bloody Tower, the White Tower and the Queen’s Quarters. My favorite though was the Jewel House. Inside were fabulous crowns including the Imperial Crown of India. With over 6,000 diamonds- and other gems - it was commissioned by King George V, as Emperor of India, when he attended the Delhi Durbar in 1911. I also liked the Yeoman Guards and the resident ravens.
Get the audio guide (£4.00) which allows you to go at your own pace. Allow a minimum of 2 hours here. Avoid the queues and buy tickets online. Get here early and head to the Crown Jewels before the lines begin. Wear comfortable shoes!
Summer opening times: 01 March - 31 October
Tuesday - Saturday 09:00 - 17:30
Sunday - Monday 10:00 - 17:30
Last admission 17:00
Winter opening times: 01 November - 28 February
Tuesday - Saturday 09:00 - 16:30
Sunday - Monday 10:00 - 16:30
Last admission 16:00
Adult £19.80/£17.00 (online)
Child (under 16) £10.45/ £9.00 (online)
Under 5s are free of charge. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Discounts for students, seniors, and family groups.
Tickets may be purchased on the day of visit or in advance on the website listed below. Be sure to check the website to see the "Top ten things to see and do" at the Tower of London.
From the Tower of London, take a walk over the Tower Bridge or catch a river cruise down the Thames.
Please note that all visitor information is correct as of this update.
The Tower is the oldest part of London still standing (the White Tower part). So of course you should go and explore, even though it is not cheap to do so.
The Yeomen Warders run regular (free) tours, so you can join in one of those if you like. The Warders are all great showmen, so you will certainly enjoy your tour.
I didn't take a tour simply because I know pretty much whatever they can tell me and because I prefer exploring alone.
It is up to you what you visit, but I would recommend two places in particular which you might miss.
Firstly, the Beauchamp Tower. This is where many upper-class prisoners were held and, for me, it was the most atmospheric of the many Tower areas. The walls are covered with graffiti carved by the prisoners held there: the Dudleys, Sir Walter Raleigh, supporters of Lady Jane Grey, others accused of treason.
Look at the graffiti (which may have been carved by paid stonemasons, or may have been carved by the prisoners themselves). Imagine what it felt like to be confined here, with the excellent view of the execution spot...and to know that one's own execution was soon likely to follow.
See my graffiti travelogue
Secondly, the Medieval Palace. Built near the river, these rooms have been partially reconstructed as they would have looked during the reign of Edward 1 and other early Kings and Queens (who only paid short visits, their real base being in Winchester). The reconstruction is excellent, and I especially like the tiny private chapel which lay off the King's bedroom.
The Tower complex is huge, and you should allow at least 3 hours to explore it (even more at busy times, when there may be queues to see the Crown Jewels). But however long you have for your visit, do try not to miss the two places I've mentioned above. They are the places most likely to take you back into the past as it really was.
I realise that the Tower of london is probably high on the list of must sees for visitors to London, and rightly so. with almost a thousand years of history, the priceless Crown Jewels, ravens and splendidly attired Yeoman warders, it really is a wonderful place to visit.
What people are perhaps less aware of is the Ceremony of the Keys. It is by ticket only (limited numbers) but is really well worth seeing.
Tickets for this ceremony are free but you need to apply 6-8 weeks in advance. Write to The Ceremony of the Keys, Waterloo Block, HM Tower of London, London, England EC3N 4AB enclosing a stamped addressed envelope or coupon-response international and stating the names of the attendees.
As the Yeoman warders put it, at 700 years, it's the longest running show in town.
Always the first on the list whenever anyone says to me ' What should I see while Im in London ".
The Tower Of London is the nation's leading historic visitor attraction This ancient fortress was founded by William the Conqueror and almost 1,000 years of British history have been played out within its walls.