Things to see in London (2022)!

Things to see in London (2022)!

Cosmopolitanism is the true hallmark of London, and it is therefore reasonable to think that Brexit (the UK’s exit from the European Union sanctioned by a referendum in March 2017) will not be able to dent this fact. Incidentally, to confirm what has just been said, it should be mentioned that the “remain” option prevailed in the city. After all, London’s multiculturalism is not a recent acquisition. According to some historians it dates back as far as the 17th century, although undoubtedly the greatest expansion occurred during the 19th and 20th centuries with arrivals from neighboring Ireland and the Commonwealth colonies. Anyone therefore who wants to set out on the trail of London’s genius loci will inevitably have to start with its multiculturalism (more than 250 nationalities present; lots of Italians). This does not mean that the city over time has not developed characteristics of its own both economically and socially. London’s peculiarities can all be traced to its status as a capital city: the decisions that matter are all made here, whether in politics or, above all, finance.

TRAFALGAR SQUARE

Trafalgar Square is the obligatory starting point of a visit to London. The main merit of this square is that although it is constantly changing, it has never lost its historical dimension. In other words, although it is the city’s “political square,” the one in which events on national and international issues are usually held, it is still the square of Horatio Nelson, the hero of the victorious 1805 battle against French troops. The statue of Admiral Nelson occupies the center of Trafalgar Square surrounded by 4 lions that soon became a favorite subject for the classic London photostory. Then there are the fountains, statues of George IV, Generals Sir Charles James Napier and Sir Henry Havelock, and finally a mobile statue dedicated to contemporary art and periodically replaced by the city government. In short, Trafalgar Square is London’s tourist living room, a base for later trips to discover the city’s many attractions starting with the nearby National Gallery.

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NATIONAL GALLERY

National Gallery is the very first stop immediately after setting foot in Trafalgar Square. In fact, the museum’s entrance is right on the square, and what’s more, it is free (temporary exhibitions charge). It is one of the most important picture galleries in the world with more than 2,000 masterpieces spanning from the 1200s to the 1900s. Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Titian: Italian art is greatly represented, but there is no shortage of works by Rembrandt, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso and others. In short, even if you are not a particular lover of painting, the National Gallery in London will still amaze you both for the breadth of the rooms and for the many opportunities for recreation that the facility provides between dining and shopping areas.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE

Located between St.James’s Park, Green Park, and Hyde Park (3 of London’s 9 royal parks) Buckingham Palace is the residence of British monarchs. It was not always so. In fact, the castle dates back to the early 18th century, 1705 to be precise, and was built by John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingam, as a country residence. Only later did it become royal property through the purchase, and concomitant renovation, by King George III. Expansion work continued until 1837 when Queen Victoria took, for the first time, official residence in the palace. Buckingam Palace can only be visited from July 21 to the end of September when queen and court are away on vacation in Scotland. Actually to be visited is only a small part (about 20 rooms in all) of the more than 700 rooms that make up the residence. Also worth seeing is the Changing of the Guard, the rotation of Her Majesty’s soldiers.

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WESTIMINSTER PALACE

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, Westiminster Palace is among London’s top tourist attractions. Three, in a nutshell, are the reasons behind its success: the neo-Gothic imprint that makes the building look older than it actually is; secondly, “Big Ben,” the name by which St. Stephen’s Tower, one of the two towers (the other being the Victoria Tower) of the palace, is commonly referred to; and finally, the British Houses of Parliament (House of Common and House of Lord) both located within this building. Seating in the two chambers is public: one must line up in front of St. Stephen’s Entrance and wait to be sorted, after thorough screening, into the space reserved for visitors. In addition, there are guided tours of the Houses of Parliament during the summer period (Aug. 1-Sept. 30).

WESTMINSTER ABBEY

In addition to being the church where English monarchs have been enshrined for nearly a thousand years (the first was William The Conqueror on December 25, 1066), Westminster Abbey is also the building where some of the most influential figures in the history of Western thought are buried. To name just three: Isaac Newton, the father of modern physics; Charles Darwin, the theorist of evolutionism; and finally Charles Dickens, the most influential interpreter of the social novel that during the 19th century gave voice to the sufferings of England’s less affluent classes. Of the original Norman imprint, the building has kept intact only the crypt. Otherwise, Westminster Abbey stands both outside and inside as a triumph of Gothic architecture (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987). The church we see today took shape over five hundred years: from 1245, when Henry III began work on it, to 1745 when the towers on the west side were completed.

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Things to see in London (2022)!
Things to see in London (2022)!

Things to see in London (2022)!

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