Travel Destination: London, England, UK

Blinded by ‘The Big Smoke’ or an Ancient City to Enjoy?

For some people, travel destinations need to be exotic and out of the ordinary. In contrast, others just like to focus on the usual places that offer many activities and areas to visit although they are a bit crowded. 

For the first option, India, China, Iceland, and similar countries with rare yet stunning places fit the description. But for the latter, Paris, New York, and London are big favorites in most people’s lists.

Focusing on a city in specific, you must know that London is not just a city. It’s an experience and one that you should never miss out on. 

This travel destination has so much to offer, from its history to the many different types of tours that are available for tourists. 

Since it deserves a lot of attention, we will go into more detail about what can be found in London and why you need to either place it in your list or visit London again with a different mindset. 

An Introduction: London’s History 

Many current cities are part of a long list of new integrations to history when compared to others that date back to years before Christ when civilizations were already established. 

Is it the same for London? Or more like, which one is the case for it? To answer these questions, we need to dive into some history. 

The basics we need to set regarding the city first is that you must already know London is the capital of England, United Kingdom, and one of the most important and influential cities in the world. 

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Now, its history starts way back when early hunter-gatherers settled it in the area around 6,000 B.C. Researchers have discovered evidence of Bronze Age bridges and Iron Age forts close to the River Thames that confirm this theory and claim. 

Although the history dates way back, there aren’t many records of how things evolved during those years, and instead, we move several years forward. 

We start with the Ancient Romans who established a port and trading center called Londinium in 43 A.D. and, a few years later, a bridge across the Thames was built to facilitate commerce and troop movement. 

In 60 A.D., the army of the Celtic queen Boudicca sacked the city, and this was the first of many fires that decimated London at the time, and you will be able to read in an extensive compilation of history. 

It was rebuilt quickly, but it was again destroyed in 125 A.D. The fall in 476 A.D. of the Roman Empire saw the city attacked by Vikings and other raiders. Soon, London was almost abandoned, and we have mentioned that the city went through many difficulties.

Finally, moving to years you might be more familiar with, in 1065, Westminster Abbey was founded. This marked a turning point in the city’s fortunes, considering the latest misfortunes. 

This was “boosted” after the victory of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings, and he became the king of England. This happened a year later after the abbey was established. 

One of the main contributions or structures that mark his reign is the construction of The Tower of London. Later, in 1176, the wooden London Bridge, which had been repeatedly destroyed, was replaced with a stone bridge.

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London grew in size and importance as the power of the Tudor and the Stuart dynasties increased. The population of London was estimated to have reached 100,000 by the time Henry VIII became king, and this only meant the city was going in the right direction. 

However, tensions between Protestants & Catholics hampered the otherwise successful reign of Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I, who was doing an incredible job by bringing the inhabitants to a better quality of life from different social statuses. 

In 1605, the Catholic sympathizer, Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the whole British House of Parliament with the notorious Gunpowder Plot, but he failed in the attempt. This was one of the most infamous events that mark London’s history today. 

Not too many years later, The Great Plague struck London in 1665. It killed approximately 100,000 people and was a disaster, leading it to more than a simple epidemic. 

If it wasn’t enough, the Great Fire of London destroyed hundreds of buildings in the city a year later and caused a half-million of the population remaining from the plague to have more difficulties. 

However, after the incident took place, many notable buildings were built in the aftermath of the fire, including Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Later, the Bank of England was established in 1694. It was first managed by John Houblon John Huguenot, who helped transform London into an international financial center. 

The city had grown to 2 million inhabitants by 1840 and continued at a steady pace with all the changes after the previous two disasters. However, the problem with London at the time was the fact that many of the people lived in unsanitary hovels, which contributed to the epidemics of cholera.

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From Tragedies to Prestigious Results

With all the incidents taking place in the city, it can be hard to consider that London is such a beautiful place today, but just like every disaster, good times came along the way. 

During the reign of Queen Victoria, London was a prestigious seat for the British Empire. Meanwhile, Big Ben towered above the city in 1859, and the stunning place opened the London Underground in 1863 to become the first underground railway in the world. 

Unfortunately, in the shadows of the metropolis, ‘Jack the Ripper stalked the women of the city in 1888 and killed at least five people in one of the most notorious murder sprees in history, which we are sure you are familiar about. 

This event was such a mystery that continuously unsolved, and sadly, it is part of London’s history focused on tragedy and death. 

Later, we had World War I that, in London, there were approximately 2,300 casualties from air raids. 

Then, during the Battle of Britain during World War II, the city was bombarded by the German Luftwaffe, and the London Blitz ultimately killed around 30,000 people.

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Londoners suffered immense pain during the 1952 Great Smog, and thousands died in the aftermath. 

However, despite the tragedies in the city, London’s economy was rising to what it is today: A stable place for people in Europe and around the globe. 

Of course, with its issues and problems, many people would say we are crazy, especially if we consider that in 2005, 56 people were killed in a terrorist attack on London’s transit system. 

But when we focus on the good parts like the fact the city has been a major cultural and financial center of Europe for many years, hosted the 2012 Olympics, and has gone through many events over the last decade along with peoples live improving, London is more than a city that suffered for decades. 

Loveable Places to Visit: What to Do as a Tourist

We are sure we don’t have to dive too much into the reason why people love visiting London. Thus, this is what you need to know: Art, architecture, food, and fashion are better when in London. 

Besides the many tragedies and events, the city has suffered over the years, they have also left many big constructions and a legacy, including the palaces and architecture that represents a great part of London’s culture and majestic feeling today. 

This is why many people decide to visit it: To have a close touch and experience with everything cultural and traditional the city has to offer. Besides, there’s much more than just visiting places. 

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Overall, London is known for being one of the most international cities with people from more than 90 nationalities. This includes tourists but also those who decide to spend their years living in the place. 

Personally, we have visited London several times, and as cliché as the city can be, it is a masterpiece you don’t get tired of to the point of making us want to live in it for a while. 

But since we are just tourists, here’s the time to focus on the main part of this section: What can you do? 

London, England, UK offers great attractions and activities, and we are sure you know many of them: 

  • You can visit the Tower of London by paying for tickets between $40 to $67.
  • The Tower Bridge is a must-visit landmark where you can take stunning photos and enjoy the view.
  • The National Gallery is full of pieces of art, and amazing masterpieces cannot be missed.
  • The British Museum also enters the list of art places you must spend some time in.
  • A tour in the “Jack the Ripper” alley where bodies were discovered? Many people are down for the adventure!
  • Cruises, bus tours, walking tours, and maybe going on regatta through the popular rivers can be options you can quite enjoy.
  • Warner Bros. Studio also has an amazing luxury round-trip experience of Harry Potter and how it was made.
  • Boat trips, high-speed cruises in the Thames River, and amazing nightclubs are other additions to the list.

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There are many packages and options in the city that will keep you visiting for weeks, not only days, so we highly recommend you book a few more days or decide to travel again with a different list of attractions and things to do. 

We spent about 21 days in the city, and although we did visit other places and areas, most of our sightseeing, photos, and experiences were in the city alone. 

Filming Movies? That’s Only Natural!

With how popular the city is and considering it is one of the main metropolia worldwide, it is only natural that many films have been shot in historical places and in special areas and simply on the streets. 

Several scenes from the “Harry Potter” franchise occur in the city, while the most recent ones like “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” also have a big part. 

Others like Emily’s Blunt “Jungle Cruise” and the 2008 film “007: Quantum of Solace” have the city as part of the secondary filming places. 

Others you will notice are clearly filmed in the city are the most recent live-action from Disney, “Cruella,” and the spin-off of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, “Hobbs & Shaw.”

We can seriously continue with this list of movies, and many of them are included in the ones you’ve watched: 

  • “Mary Poppins Returns” (2018).
  • “Casino Royale” (2006).
  • “Assassin’s Creed” (2016).
  • “Me Before You” (2016).
  • “Shakespeare In Love” (1998).
  • “A Knight’s Tale” (2001).
  • “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (2019).
  • “Sherlock Holmes” (2009).

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7 Classic Facts About London, England, UK

  • Despite being the capital city, London isn’t the largest city but rather the smallest in England. 
  • Big Ben isn’t the actual name of the tower but rather the clock inside it.
  • About 297 languages are spoken in London due to diversity and people from all nationalities.
  • London has been considered the best city in the United Kingdom since the 17th Century.
  • The city has six major orchestras: The Royal Philharmonic, The London Philharmonic, The BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, and the London Symphony Orchestra.
  • Over 2 million international passengers come to visit the city every year.
  • Part of the higher education institutions in England is located in London.

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Written by Dame Cash

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