London is one of the largest cities in the world. More then 10mln people live in London and its suburbs. London is a city of striking contrasts. Here one can come across the past and the present, the old and the modern, live side by side in mutual tolerance and respect.
In London, one can see architecture of different centuries and styles. It is inseparably connected with the history of the city. The Romans, the Saxons and the Danes settled here in turn, after them came the Normans, and brought the French civilisation. London survived the Plague and the Great Fire, which followed in 1666. During the Fire all wooden houses were smashed to the ground and a New London, London of stone with bigger houses and wider streets was built. During the World War II, many buildings of great historic value lay in ruins and today the face of London is changed.
Traditionally London is divided into several parts: the City, Westminster, the West End and the East End.
The city first started in the place, which is known as the City. It is the Heart of London, it’s commercial and business centre. It occupies a territory of a square mile. During a day, it is full of people, nearly half a million people work there.
The West End is the richest part of the city with its beautiful avenues, parks and gardens, grandhotels, theatres and fashionable shops. It is a symbol of wealth and luxury.
While the City is the money of London and the West End is the good of London, the East End is the hands of London, that built the banks of the City and beautiful mansions and hotels of the West End. It is a district, inhabited by the workers. There are many factories and the Port of London there.
As for me, I cannot imagine London without Thames. In fact, painters and writers regard the river as the source of inspiration. Turner, Monet, Canatello painted it countless times and their impression of the river in all seasons can be seen on the walls of museums, throughout the world. Pope, Spensor and many other poets sang it in their poems. The most famous books about the Thames are ‘Three men in a boat’ by Jerome-k-Jerome and ‘The wind in the willows’ by K. Graham. If there had been no Thames, there would be no London. It was born many centuries ago in the place, which is known as the City. The City is not only the centre of business. It’s the burth place of London. London was born in the place not far from St. Paul’s cathedral hundreds of years before our era. It was called Lynn-din (the lonely port) at that time. After the Norman Conquest, it became Londinium.
If you want to get some glimpses of London, you’d better start sightseeing with the Tower of London, that comes first among the historic buildings of the city. It was built as the fortress after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. It has been used as the Royal Palace, as an observatory, an arsenal and a prison. For many visitors the principal attraction is the Crown Jewels, the finest precious stones of the nation.
A twenty minutes’ walk from the Tower will take you to another historic building – St. Paul’s Cathedral, the greatest of English churches. It was built by a famous English architect Sir Christopher Wren. St. Paul’s Cathedral, with it’s famous Whispering Gallery, is considered to be a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. In one of its towers hangs one of the largest bells in the world – Great Paul.
Not far from Cathedral is Westminster Abbey. It was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1050. The best part of the Abbey is a wonderful chapel, dating back to the 16th century. It is famous for its magnificent architecture. There are many monuments and statues there. Many English kings and queens are buried there. Since William the 1st, almost ever monarch has been crowned in this great church. One of the greatest treasures of the Abbey is oaken Coronation Chair made in 1300. On the south side of Westminster Abbey is Poet’s Corner, where the greatest English writers are buried. Here also are memorials to Shakespeare, Burns, Byron, Scott and so on.
Across the road from Westminster Abbey is Westminster Palace, which is spread magnificently on the north bank of the Thames. It is a remarkable example of Gothic architecture.