Although London prides itself on its vast collection of modern art, eclectic eateries and West End shows, foremost it is a city defined by its richly historical past. Just a short trip around the capital can reveal some amazing architectural gems perfect for locals, visitors and families to enjoy. Packed with an array of heritage sites, stunning period architecture and breath-taking buildings, Britain offers many chances to immerse yourself in the culture of the past. Read on for ideas on the best heritage sites to visit this spring.
1. Westminster Palace
This Neo-Gothic gem was completed in 1870 by August Pugin and Charles Barry and features many of the features that are so characteristic of Victorian architecture. Notable for its intricate window frames especially its Timber sashwindows, a trip to the adjoining Houses of Parliament also offers the chance to see Big Ben up close and attend political debates in the chambers.
2. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich
Noted as a key heritage site due to its important contributions to the field of science, Christopher Wren’s beautiful structure houses a planetarium, an Astronomy centre and a collection of timepieces designed to accurately measure longitude down to a few seconds. As well as giving visitors the opportunity to stand on the Prime Meridian Line, Greenwich is also home to the Queen’s Houseand the Old Royal Naval College.
3.The Tower of London
Built by William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest over the course of 900 years this amazing building has been used as a palace, prison and even an execution yard. Famous names associated with the site include Guy Fawkes who was interrogated here after the Gunpowder Plot, and Edward the IV’s sons (known as the Two Princes in the Tower). As well as brushing up on your history, don’t miss your chance to see the best of the Crown Jewels including the Imperial State Crown worth over £27 million.
4.The Banqueting House
Deeply unpopular when it was first built, the Banqueting House was commissioned by James I and designed by Inigo Jones in the early 17th-century. Noted as being Britain’s first Renaissance building, its unique architecture eventually became its main draw. In 1625 famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens painted the ceiling and the house is now popular as a meeting spot for receiving foreign dignitaries from all over the world.
5. Temple Place, Victoria Embankment
Located on the banks of the Thames, this opulent Victorian house is the former residence of Viscount William Waldorf Astor. Built for the financier and hotelier in 1891 by architect John Loughborough with its carved Spanish mahogany roof painted with breathtaking portraits of characters from literature and history, this charming space celebrates the arts in all their glory.