The Houses of Parliament's iconic clock tower is one of London's most famous landmarks!
The Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, commonly called Big Ben, are among London's most iconic landmarks and must-see London attractions. Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg). The clock tower looks spectacular at night when the four clock faces are illuminated.
Elizabeth Tower stands at more than 96 metres tall, with 334 steps to climb up to the belfry and 399 steps to the Ayrton Light at the very top of the tower.
It is not possible for overseas visitors to tour the clock tower. Instead, join a talk on the Elizabeth Tower or take a tour of the Houses of Parliament next to The Elizabeth Tower. Alternatively, watch this behind-the-scenes video of Big Ben in action.
Visit a Buckingham Palace for a glimpse inside one of the few working royal palaces remaining in the world today.
During the summer, you can tour the 19 spectacular State Rooms. These magnificent rooms are decorated with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck.
Outside of the summer opening, you can still see the iconic exterior of the palace and watch the famous Changing the Guard.
Founded in 1753, the British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history. Enjoy a unique comparison of the treasures of world cultures under one roof, centred around the magnificent Great Court.
World-famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures, and Egyptian mummies are visited by up to six million visitors per year. In addition to the vast permanent collection, the museum’s special exhibitions, displays and events are all designed to advance understanding of the collection and cultures they represent.
The Coca-Cola London Eye is centrally located in the heart of the capital, gracefully rotating over the River Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. At 135 metres, the Coca-Cola London Eye is the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel; a feat of design and engineering it has become the modern symbol representing the capital and a global icon. The experience showcases breathtaking 360 degree views of the capital and its famous landmarks and has been the number one visitor experience in the city for the past decade.
The gradual rotation in one of the 32 high-tech glass capsules takes approximately 30 minutes and gives you an ever-changing perspective of London. Within each capsule, interactive guides allow you to explore the capital's iconic landmarks in several languages.
An experience on the Coca-Cola London Eye will lift you high enough to see up to 40 kilometres on a clear day and keep you close enough to see the spectacular details of the city unfolding beneath you.
Kensington Palace, a palace of secret stories and public lives, has been influenced by generations of royal women.
Experience life as an 18th-century royal courtier whilst making your way through the magnificent King's and Queen's State Apartments adorned with remarkable paintings from the Royal Collection. Victoria Revealed, set within the rooms Queen Victoria lived in as a child, is an exhibition that explores her life and reign as wife, mother, Queen and Empress.
Diana: Her Fashion Story - Kensington Palace’s newest exhibition - traces the evolution of Diana’s style; from the demure, romantic outfits of her first public appearances to the glamour, elegance and confidence of her later life. Highlights include the pink blouse worn for Diana’s engagement portrait in 1981 and the ink blue velvet gown, worn when the princess danced with John Travolta.
Set right in the heart of London, Hyde Park offers both world-class events and concerts together with plenty of quiet places to relax and unwind.
Dip your toes in the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, brave an open water swim in the Serpentine, or just admire the views across the lake from a waterside café.
Have a go at boating, tennis, horse riding, or join the many joggers, walkers and cyclists enjoying the open air.
Hyde Park has a long history as a site of protest, and still hosts rallies and marches today. Visit Speakers’ Corner on a Sunday morning to hear people from all walks of life share their views. Hyde Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and covers an area of 350 acres.
With 14 interactive areas, Madame Tussauds London combines glitz, glamour and incredible history with more than 300 stunning wax figures.
Walk down the red carpet with Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp, before exploring our sports zone alongside Usain Bolt and David Beckham. Enjoy an audience with Her Majesty The Queen and Will and Kate before stepping on stage with music icons including Miley Cyrus. Then, after a behind-the-scenes look at how our sculptors work, ride in a taxi and relive the rich history of London.
Despite the Tower of London's grim reputation as a place of torture and death, within these walls you will also discover the history of a royal palace, an armoury and a powerful fortress. Don't miss Royal Beasts and learn about the wild and wonderous animals that have inhabited the Tower, making it the first London Zoo.
Discover the priceless Crown Jewels, join an iconic Beefeater on a tour and hear their bloody tales, stand where famous heads have rolled, learn the legend of the Tower's ravens, storm the battlements, get to grips with swords and armour, and much more!
Would you like to go on a fascinating journey from the coastline to the depths of the ocean? Discover a magical underwater world filled with a dazzling array of creatures! With thousands of sea creatures, from rays to rare green sea turtles; you can see them swimming majestically above you with an Ocean Tunnel. The Shark Walk will have you walking across glass with seven species of stunning shark in the Shark Reef Encounter display below you.
The Science Museum is the most visited science and technology museum in Europe. There are over 15,000 objects on display, including world-famous objects such as the Apollo 10 command capsule and Stephenson’s Rocket.
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Although now far inland, Bramber Castle was originally situated on the coast where the River Adur meets the sea. Built by the de Braose family it was confiscated by King John whose harsh treatment of Lady de Braose and her two sons led to the rebellion that culminated in Magna Carta.
The striking chequerboard flint and Caen limestone facade is part of one of the oldest Norman buildings in Sussex. The museum tells the story of Shoreham’s maritime and local history from prehistoric to medieval times.
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most iconic sights in today’s vibrant Berlin. More than just Berlin’s only surviving historical city gate, this site came to symbolise Berlin’s Cold War division into East and West – and, since the fall of the Wall, a reunified Germany. Architecturally, the sandstone Brandenburg Gate also represents one of the earliest and most attractive examples of a neo-classical building in Germany.
Constructed between 1788 and 1791, the Brandenburg Gate was Berlin’s first Greek revival building. Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, architect to the Prussian court, it was inspired by the monumental gateway at the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. The Brandenburg Gate is 26 metres high, 65.5 metres long and 11 metres deep, and supported by two rows of six Doric columns.
In 1793, the gate was crowned by the Quadriga statue, designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow. This statue also has its own story to tell. In 1806, when Napoleon’s army took Berlin, the French Emperor had the Quadriga transported to Paris as war booty and a sign of his victory. In 1814, after Napoleon’s forced abdication, the Quadriga was returned to Berlin where it once again adorned the Brandenburg Gate, facing towards the east and the city centre.
At 1316 metres long, the open-air art gallery on the banks of the Spree in Friedrichshain is the longest continuous section of the Berlin Wall still in existence. Immediately after the wall came down, 118 artists from 21 countries began painting the East Side Gallery, and it officially opened as an open air gallery on 28 September 1990. Just over a year later, it was given protected memorial status.
In more than a hundred paintings on what was the east side of the wall, the artists commented on the political changes in 1989/90. Some of the works at the East Side Gallery are particularly popular, such as Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss and Birgit Kinders’s Trabant breaking through the wall. They are not just a popular subject for postcards – you’re sure to want to photograph them yourself.
Discover the magic of the rococo at the beautiful Charlottenburg Palace – once a royal summer residence, today Berlin’s largest and most magnificent palace.
In the Neuer Flügel (New Wing), you can view the staterooms and the rococo ballroom known as the Goldene Galerie (Golden Gallery). The Silver Vault includes quite stunning tableware of gold, silver, glass and porcelain displayed on laid tables. Around 100 table services have survived intact, a vivid reminder of the magnificence of dining at court. The impressive display of the remaining pieces of the Prussian crown jewels, complete with the imperial insignias, as well as personal treasures, such as the elaborated designed, exquisite snuffboxes collected by Friedrich the Great, are also well worth seeing. The Porcelain Cabinet in the Old Palace offers a breathtaking collection of the finest blue-and-white porcelain decorating the entire room.
The Reichstag is an internationally recognisable symbol of democracy and the current home of the German parliament. Every year, thousands of guests visit the Reichstag - and with good reason: It is not often that you can enjoy such an amazing panorama while, just beneath your feet, the political decisions of tomorrow are being made. Both as an architectural wonder and a historical testimony, the Reichstag has an important role to play in Berlin.
There are several options to visit the Reichstag: join a guided tour; listen to a plenary session (in German of course) or climb up to the dome and the roof!
Soaring 368 metres into the sky, Berlin’s TV Tower is the city’s most visible landmark. But the tower on Alexanderplatz is not just literally a must-see sight, it is also the highest building in Europe open to the general public. And from the dizzying height of its viewing platform, you have spectacular 360-degree panoramic views out across the entire city – and beyond!
East Germany, though, has long been history. But the TV Tower is still drawing the crowds – and is ranked among the top sights in twenty-first century Germany. After German reunification, the TV Tower took on an entirely new significance. No longer just a symbol of East Germany, the TV Tower quickly became an integral element of Berlin’s new cityscape, and soon came to symbolise the city – both nationally and internationally.
Clear early morning skies – and not a cloud in sight? Then it’s time to hop out of bed and head for the TV Tower. For this popular tourist sight, the early riser really does skip the queues for the lift, especially on sunny days.
The government buildings in the heart of Berlin form a ribbon across the river Spree, symbolically connecting East and West. The parliamentary offices and the chancellery were not built until the wall came down and Berlin was chosen as the country’s seat of government. The buildings are exciting examples of contemporary architecture that no-one sightseeing in Berlin can afford to miss.
The original idea for the Band des Bundes was a gesture of reunification. In a dual piece of symbolism, the government buildings and the offices for democratically elected MPs are both a physical connection and a symbolic bridge between East and West.
The federal buildings are not just the centre of the town in geographical terms; since 2006, the striking concrete and glass buildings have been the first thing that visitors to Berlin see when they arrive at the city’s main station.
The magnificent dome of the Cathedral Church (Berliner Dom) is one of the main landmarks in Berlin’s cityscape – and marks the spot of the impressive basilica housing the city’s most important Protestant church. With its elaborate decorative and ornamental designs, the church interior is especially worth seeing.
Yet although the church is known as a cathedral, it actually has the status of a parish church – though not just any parish. This was the court church to the Hohenzollern dynasty, the rulers of Prussia and later the German Emperors. Today, as the High Parish and Cathedral Church, the church serves the Protestant community in Berlin and the surrounding areas. The congregation is not based on place of residence, but open through admission to all baptised Protestants in the region.
The Pergamonmuseum is nothing short of a wonder in itself. Its rooms are overflowing with some of the world’s most impressive, long buried, treasures. The museum encompasses the vast history of the Ancient East, with collections that can not be experienced elsewhere. The museum is named after the Pergamon Altar, a Hellenistic masterpiece of white stone architecture. The imposing structure invites you to walk the steps of 2000 years of history and behold its intricacies close-up. But don’t get lost in this wonder for too long, as there are many more under the museum’s roof. Artefacts have been gathered from Iran, Asia Minor, Egypt and the Caucasus, and these worlds have been recreated for you to explore within the Pergamonmuseum.
No trip to Berlin is complete without a stroll down Kurfürstendamm. Berlin’s most popular shopping boulevard is the beating heart of the western city centre.
Kurfürstendamm is Berlin’s most famous and popular shopping boulevard and is the heart of the western city centre. You’re sure to enjoy a successful shopping trip there. The 3.5-kilometre-long boulevard takes you from Breitscheidplatz and the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche to Rathenauplatz, where the Grunewald villas begin.
Breitscheidplatz is where Kurfürstendamm officially begins; before that the street is called Tauentzienstraße. This runs into Wittenbergplatz, where you will find the legendary KaDeWe – Berlin’s most famous department store, which everyone associates with Kurfürstendamm, even though, technically, it isn’t on it.
Alexanderplatz has always been one of the liveliest places in Berlin, with shops, cinemas, restaurants, and many attractions within walking distance.
Alexanderplatz in Mitte is one of the best-known public squares in Berlin – and it’s certainly the biggest. Named after Tsar Alexander I, who visited the Prussian capital in 1805, most people simply call it Alex.
Also in the winter you will find several Christmas markets at Alexanderplatz: at the Rotes Rathaus, at the Alexa shopping centre and around the world clock.
Covering over 125 hectares and comprising more than 15,000 trees, El Retiro Park is a green oasis in the heart of the city. In it you’ll find all kinds of interesting monuments and gardens, including the Jardín de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (Andalusian-inspired classicistic gardens), the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios, the Rosaleda rose garden and the Parterre Francés, which holds a Mexican conifer that is nearly 400 years old and is believed to be Madrid’s oldest tree.
Madrid's Royal Palace was built in the 18th century by order of Philip V on the site of the old Alcázar fortress, a former Moorish castle. Sachetti began the works in 1738, and the building was completed in 1764. Sabatini designed the southeast wing and the great staircase, or staircase of honour. It has a square floor plan with a large central courtyard. The Puerta del Príncipe gateway on the east side gives access to the central courtyard. The Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens are among the Palace's other attractions, as well as its several different façades. There is some debate as to its artistic style; it is thought by some experts to belong more to the Baroque, and by others to the Neo-classical style. Of particular note among its numerous rooms are the Royal Guards' Room, the Columns Room, the Hall of Mirrors and King Charles III's room. It also contains paintings by Velázquez, Goya, Rubens, El Greco and Caravaggio.
This gallery in Madrid has the most complete collection of Spanish painting from 11th-18th centuries, and numerous masterpieces by great universal artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Bosch, Titian, Van Dyck and Rembrandt.
The quality and variety of its collection makes the Prado one of the world's best-endowed museums. It combines a first-class collection of Spanish painting, the most important works of the Flemish and Italian schools, and various fine examples of the German, French and English schools. It is home to numerous masterpieces of universal art such as Las Meninas by Velázquez, the two Majas by Goya, Nobleman with his hand on his chest by El Greco, the Garden of Delights by Bosch, and The Three Graces by Rubens, among other priceless pieces. Although the museum was created to house primarily works of painting and sculpture, it also contains major collections of drawings, engravings, coins and medals, as well as items of clothing and decorative art.
This portico lined square is situated at the heart of Hapsburg Madrid, the old part of the city and one of the capital’s most charming districts.
Before Madrid became a capital city, with its wide avenues and boulevards, its footprint consisted of narrow streets, alleys and passageways, which today take us back to the times of swashbuckling swordsmen and medieval rogues.
The foundations of Plaza Mayor were laid, when Philip II's court moved to Madrid, on the site of the former Plaza del Arrabal, where the town's most popular market was located towards the end of the 15th century. In 1617, architect Juan Gómez de Mora was commissioned to create a greater uniformity amongst the buildings in this location, which for centuries had hosted popular entertainments, bullfights, beatifications, coronations and the occasional auto de fe.
This is one of the most well-known monuments in Madrid. Built between 1769 and 1778 under the orders of King Carlos III, it was designed by Francisco Sabatini and erected as a triumphal arch to celebrate the arrival of the monarch at the capital. The granite gate is 19.5 metres tall and is elegant and well-proportioned. The façade features a number of decorative elements with groups of sculptures, capitals, reliefs and masks, among others.
Built in 1782, the Cibeles Fountain has been standing in this emblematic square since 1895. One of the city’s most famous landmarks, it depicts Cybele, the Great Mother and Roman goddess of fertility, atop a chariot drawn by two lions.
It stands in the centre of the Plaza de Cibeles, the square to which it has lent its name and which marks the start of Madrid’s avenue of art, the Paseo del Arte. The fountain is flanked by four magnificent buildings: Buenavista Palace (the Army’s General Headquarters), Linares Palace (which accommodates the Casa de América cultural institution), Cibeles Palace (previously the main Post Office, it now houses Madrid City Hall and CentroCentro cultural centre), and the Bank of Spain. Commissioned by King Charles III it was designed by renowned Spanish architect Ventura Rodriguez. All three figures were made with purple marble from the town of Montesclaros, in Toledo, and the rest of the monument was carved from stone from Redueña, an area 53km to the north of Madrid, close to the La Cabrera mountain range.
This bustling square located bang in the centre of Madrid is one of the city’s most famous sites. With its semi-circular shape, it is a junction for many of the city’s historical and busiest streets such as Mayor, Arenal, Alcalá and Preciados, as well as the starting point for all major radial roads in Spain.
Originally the site of one of the city’s gates, Puerta del Sol should be at the top of your list of places to visit. Sitting atop the Casa de Correos building, the current headquarters of the Madrid regional government, you’ll find the famous clock that all eyes turn to on the last day of the year. For over a century now tradition has it that people across the country usher in the New Year by eating 12 lucky grapes to the twelve chimes of midnight struck by this clock.
A stone slab on the pavement in front of the main entrance to the Casa de Correos marks Spain’s Kilometre 0, the starting point for all major radial roads in Spain. Across the square, at the beginning of Calle Alcalá, Madrid’s longest street, you’ll find the famous Oso y Madroño. The official symbol of the city, the statue of a bear nuzzling a strawberry tree is a popular meeting spot for Madrileños.
The stunning Palacio de Cibeles is not only the headquarters of Madrid City Council, it is also home to CentroCentro. A recent addition to the renowned Paseo del Arte, the cultural centre boasts a packed programme of activities that revolve around the city and includes exhibitions, workshops, conferences and concerts.
Next to the entrance hall, where you’ll find interactive information screens, there is a colourful lounge where visitors can sit back and read, connect to WiFi or enjoy some people-watching through the large windows that look out onto Plaza de Cibeles. The building has two restaurants: Colección Cibeles on the ground floor and Palacio de Cibeles on the 6th. Both are open Monday to Sunday. Also on the sixth floor is Terraza Cibeles, a great rooftop bar where you can relax with a pre-dinner drink or mid-afternoon snack as you take in the wonderful views of the Plaza de Cibeles and the Madrid skyline.
For even more breathtaking vistas, head up to the Mirador observation deck on the 8th floor.
In 1968, Manuel Herrero Palacios designed these 8 hectares of gardens so that one could sit and admire the magnificence of the Temple of Debod, which had been donated to Spain by the Government of Egypt. The Debod Mausoleum, which is more than 2,000 years old, was rescued from the waters of Aswan Dam by a group of Spanish archaeologists. They brought back every stone and rebuilt it in its present location, after the Government of Egypt donated it to Spain. It was set on the remains of Cuartel de la Montaña, retaining the orientation to the sun it had at its place of origin.
From here, the famous Manzanares cornice, with the Royal Palace, Casa de Campo and, possibly, the most beautiful sunsets in Madrid, can be seen. The garden’s parterres on both sides are merely a vegetation frame. They are enclosed with squares, banana trees for alignment and groups of palm trees and Mediterranean plants on the meadows.
Opened in May 1916 as a food market, this centenary establishment (one of the city’s few and best examples of iron architecture) became Madrid’s first gastronomy market in May 2009. Throughout 2018, the market will undergo a period of consolidation of much of its gastronomy contents.
Located in the centre of Los Austrias Madrid and with over 10 million visitors a year, the San Miguel Market is the city’s gastronomic temple, the contemporary essence of all the corners of Spanish cuisine. From the best Iberian ham to fresh seafood brought from Galicia each day, the Mediterranean rice or the special cheese from Castile, Asturias or the Basque Country. The finest products and wine from the length and breadth of Spain are divided among 30 permanent stands and 3 in a portable format.