City of London Walk (Self Guided), London

The City of London is the capital’s historic and financial heart. In this neighborhood colloquially known as the Square Mile as it is 1.12 square miles in area, the Roman and medieval remains stand side by side with 21st century architecture. This self-guided walk takes you back in time by strolling through narrow alleys and cobbled streets in this most historic part of the capital.
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City of London Walk Map

Guide Name: City of London Walk
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
Author: Xena
1
Tower Bridge

1) Tower Bridge (must see)

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London. The bridge consists of two towers which are tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways which are designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower.

Its present colour dates from 1977 when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Originally it was painted a chocolate brown colour. Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred to as London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream.

Why You Should Visit:
Unique and majestic structure; amazing to see especially at night!
Great view and a glass floor on the high-level walkways that is really quite cool.

Tip:
If you're lucky enough, you could see the bridge open up to let the barges/ships pass by.
Don't skip the engine room, which is very educational as to how the bridge operates.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Royal Armouries

2) Royal Armouries

The Royal Armouries is the United Kingdom's National Museum of Arms and Armour. It is the country's oldest museum, and one of the oldest museums in the world. It is also one of the largest collections of arms and armour in the world, comprising the UK's National Collection of Arms and Armour, National Artillery Collection, and National Firearms Collection. It is also the keeper of the Tower of London history.

The Royal Armouries is one of the ancient institutions of the Tower of London and was originally engaged in the manufacture of armour for the Kings of England. In 1545, it is recorded that a visiting foreign dignitary paid to view the collection at the Armoury. By the time of Charles II, there was a permanent public display, featuring the "Spanish Armoury" which included instruments of torture and the "Line of Kings" - a row of wooden effigies representing the kings of England. This makes it the first museum in Britain. From 1414, the Tower was home to the Master of the Ordnance and the Ordnance Office (later the Board of Ordnance) who were responsible for providing weapons to both the Army and Navy. The Tower was engaged in the development, manufacture and storage of a wide variety of weaponry until the Board was abolished in 1855, however the historic collection remained. Only a small part of this could be displayed and in 1995, much of the artillery collection was moved to Fort Nelson in Hampshire and the following year a new Royal Armouries Museum was opened in Leeds. The remaining part of the collection relates directly to the Tower.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 9 am – 4:30 pm; Sunday to Monday: 10 am – 4.30 pm. Entry to the White Tower is free and includes the standard admission ticket to the Tower of London.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Tower of London

3) Tower of London (must see)

The Tower of London is a misnomer, it isn’t a “tower”, it is a vast, ancient fortress, so when you visit it, pack a picnic because it will take you all day to fully explore every part open to the public. Gazing at the Crown Jewels is only a small part of the attraction of this magnificent bastion.

The original building was constructed on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1070 as a temporary wooden building. Later a stone tower was added and by the 13th century, it had become the fortress you can visit today, with several towers, all with their own history.

These towers are: the White Tower, built in 1097 and white-washed by Henry II (hence its name); the Bloody Tower where Richard III supposedly had his nephews murdered so that he could take the throne after the death of his brother, Edward IV; St Thomas Tower where political prisoners were brought to by way of the Traitor’s Gate; Beauchamp Tower where Lady Jane Grey (the Nine Day Queen) was guarded before her execution; the Bell Tower where Thomas More was kept before his execution.

Why You Should Visit:
Tower of London says it all about how important the city was – even back in the 11th century.

Tip:
Buy your ticket(s) online and in advance, then print out and skip most of the lines to enter by following the signs for ticket holders.
Join one of the free Beefeater guided tours, lasting some 45 min. These are informative and will give you a good appreciation of the Tower's history.
Make sure you walk all round the Tower, as there are fascinating exhibitions in lots of places you may not notice.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Mon: 10am-4:30pm; Tue-Sat: 9am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
All Hallows-by-the-Tower

4) All Hallows-by-the-Tower

All Hallows-by-the-Tower, also previously dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, is an ancient Anglican church located in Byward Street in the City of London, overlooking the Tower of London. Founded in 675, it is one of the oldest churches in London, and contains inside a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon arch with recycled Roman tiles, the oldest surviving piece of church fabric in the city.

All Hallows-by-the-Tower was first established by the Anglo-Saxon Abbey at Barking and was for many years named after the abbey, as All Hallows Barking. The church was built on the site of a former Roman building, traces of which have been discovered in the crypt. It was expanded and rebuilt several times between the 11th and 15th centuries. Its proximity to the Tower of London meant that it acquired royal connections, with Edward IV making one of its chapels a royal chantry and the beheaded victims of Tower executions being sent for temporary burial at All Hallows.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
St. Mary-at-Hill

5) St. Mary-at-Hill

If you would like to see a fine example of a 12th century church, then you shouldn’t miss visiting St Mary-at-Hill in the Billingsgate Ward.

This church was built in the 12th century and called “St Mary de Hull”, later changed to the name it bears today after the Norman influence on the language waned. It isn’t a very large church, being 96ft long and 60ft wide, but it represents one of the oldest buildings in the capital.

The church was damaged during the Great Fire of London in 1666, but Sir Christopher Wren was able to rebuild it, replacing only the east end and the interior. The three other walls and the west tower were undamaged. The interior has four free-standing Corinthian columns that support the barrel-vaulted ceiling which has a Greek cross pattern and a coffered dome in the centre.

In 1787 the west wall was rebuilt and the tower was replaced rebuilt in brick. In 1826 arched iron-framed windows were installed in the north wall. A cupola was added to the dome and windows were set into the chancel vault in 1848.

Sadly a fire in 1988 caused a great deal of damage, and although the roof and ceiling were rebuilt, the woodwork which included the ancient pews and the pulpit were not replaced. Every year the October Festival of the Sea is held in the church – a Harvest Festival with fish and sea food instead of fruit and vegetables – and in June music recitals are given on St Botolph’s Day.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
London Bridge

6) London Bridge

We all know the children’s nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down”. Today’s London Bridge is not falling down, but its predecessors were all destroyed during wars or by fires.

The first bridge to span the Thames at this spot was a Roman pontoon bridge built in 50 AD, replaced in 55 AD by a piled bridge, which was destroyed in 60 AD by Queen Boudicca. The bridge was rebuilt but fell into disrepair when the Romans left. It was rebuilt in 990 and again destroyed – this time by Prince Olaf in 1014.

The Norman Bridge built in 1067 was destroyed in the London Tornado of 1091. King William II had it rebuilt but this time it was ravaged by fire in 1136. The stone bridge built in 1173 had a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket in the centre and houses and shops were built along the bridge, making the passage for carts and wagons very narrow. Fire destroyed the North end in 1212 and the South end in 1633. The South gateway was used for over 300 years as a place where traitor’s heads were put up on pikes for the edification of the general public.

In 1756 the houses were removed from the bridge and a new bridge was built in 1831. This bridge was sold in 1968 to an American millionaire and transported piece by piece to be reassembled at Lake Havasu in Arizona. The current bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.

Don’t miss the London Bridge Experience and London Tombs – the scariest attractions in the capital. You will find them in the Gothic vaults under the bridge. In the London Bridge Experience you will be led by actors through the history of the bridge. London Tombs takes place in an ancient plague pit and is very frightening. Children of under 11 aren’t allowed in.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
The Monument

7) The Monument

The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known simply as the Monument, is a Doric column in London, situated near the northern end of London Bridge. Commemorating the Great Fire of London, it stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, 202 feet (62 m) in height and 202 feet west of the spot in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666.

Constructed between 1671 and 1677, it was built on the site of St. Margaret's, Fish Street, the first church to be destroyed by the Great Fire. Another monument, the Golden Boy of Pye Corner, marks the point near Smithfield where the fire was stopped.

The top of the Monument is reached by a narrow winding staircase of 311 steps. The view from the top is incredible, but the climb may not be easy for some people.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Leadenhall Market

8) Leadenhall Market

Built in 1881, Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest marketplaces in London where meat and fish had been sold since as far back as the 14th century. Located in the historic center of London’s financial district, this beautiful covered Victorian market is a rather magical place for a bit of shopping. Its ornate painted green and red roof and cobbled floors made Leadenhall a popular attraction even before it played a starring role in the Harry Potter series.

In the films, the market is featured as the area of London which secretly leads magical folk to Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping hub of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students stock up on school supplies like spell books and wands. Harry and Hagrid walk through the market as they approach the Leaky Cauldron, which holds a sneaky entrance to the alley.

In both, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” an empty storefront at 42 Bull’s Head Passage (at Leadenhall Market) was used as the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron. The shop was vacant at the time, so filmmakers were able to paint it black and hang up a Leaky Cauldron sign for the scene. Its rounded blue doorway is now instantly recognizable to Harry Potter fans. Today the shop is occupied by Glass House Opticians, so, with a bit of luck, you may even find Mad-Eye Moody here, getting fitted for a contact lens...

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
9
Bank of England Museum

9) Bank of England Museum

The Bank of England Museum is located within the Bank of England in the City of London. This small museum displays a wide-ranging collection detailing the history of the Bank from its foundation in 1694 to the modern day.

The displays include a reconstruction of a late 18th-century office, known as the Stock Office; this is where holders of Bank stock would come to collect their dividends. Also on display are the bank's collections of old bank notes, coins, silver and gold bars which are usually interesting to see for both adults and children.

Admission is free. Operating hours: Monday-Friday 10am-5pm.
10
St. Paul's Cathedral

10) St. Paul's Cathedral (must see)

Ludgate Hill, one of three ancient hills in London, has been the site of a place of worship since 604 AD. The present building on the hill is St Paul’s Cathedral, and it is quite rightly one of the most famous of London’s landmarks and the most visited cathedral in the world, after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Between 604 and the Great Fire of 1666, there had been several churches on the hill, and after the last one was destroyed in the Great Fire, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to build a new, bigger one. He had to make five different designs of the building before one was finally chosen; work began in 1675 and the cathedral was officially opened in 1711.

The interior of the cathedral is very beautiful with the inner dome painted with 8 monochromes by Sir James Thornhill, depicting the life of St Paul. The inner dome holds three galleries: the internal Whispering Gallery takes its name from the unique acoustics – a whisper against the wall on one side of the gallery can be heard on the other side. Above this is the external Stone Gallery and above that is the external Golden Gallery.

In the Nave there are three chapels: on the North aisle are the All Souls Chapel and the St Dunstan’s Chapel; on the South aisle is St George and St Michael Chapel. The Knights Bachelor Chapel and the OBE Chapel are to be found in the crypt.

The tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren are also in the crypt, along with tombs and memorials to many others who have made a great contribution to the nation, including artist and musicians. Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral was held here, and of course, the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana was celebrated in the cathedral.

***Charles Dickens Tour***
St Paul’s Cathedral, as a setting, is featured heavily in many novels by Charles Dickens. In "Master Humphrey’s Clock", for example, Dickens describes Master Humphrey going up to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, then the tallest building in London, for the panoramic City view. He writes: ‘Draw but a little circle above the clustering house tops, and you shall have within its space, everything with its opposite extreme and contradiction, close beside’.

Another Dickens's work – "David Copperfield" – takes Peggotty to the top of St. Paul’s to enjoy the impressive views over London, which is something visitors still do today.

The area around the iconic cathedral Dickens knew well and frequented himself for various reasons, including major public events, like the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
Other than architecture- and history buffs, nowadays Harry Potter fans also have their reason to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. The point of interest for them is the spectacular spiral Geometric Staircase (also known as the Dean’s Stair) that appears to be floating out of the walls of the Cathedral’s South West Bell Tower. Recognizable from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, this winding staircase leads to the astronomy tower and is where students climbed up the stone steps towards Professor Trelawney’s Divination classes held in a classroom atop a Hogwart’s North Tower. It was also featured in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” as the Turris Magnus staircase. To view the staircase, you will need to enter the Cathedral on a visitor ticket.

***Shakespeare Walk***
The medieval St Paul’s Cathedral, predecessor of Sir Christopher Wren’s landmark dome design, was one of the largest European churches of its time, whose spire dominated the skyline of London until it burned down in the Great Fire of 1666. During Shakespeare’s lifetime, the area around St Paul’s was very different to what it is today.

Apart from being the centre of religious, political, cultural and social life in the city, the Cathedral was also the heart of London’s book trade and its environment was quite important in shaping the literary works of that period. By 1600, Shakespeare was the most published professional dramatist, and the first editions of his plays including Titus Andronicus, Richard II, Richard III, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Merchant of Venice were all bought and sold in St Paul’s Churchyard. It is also very likely that Shakespeare himself scouted the local bookshops for content that would furnish him with source material for his own work. In large part, the environment of St Paul’s shaped Shakespeare’s writing and influenced its survival and reception.

Why You Should Visit:
An architectural masterpiece and symbol of London during the War.
There is always much to explore, both above ground and in the crypt.

Tip:
You have to pay for the entrance of this cathedral. Buy tickets online to save time. You can also buy an audio tour at the entrance.
To really appreciate the interior, you should climb the steps to the dome (which should take a good 30 min.) You will find an external viewing area at the top.
Part way up there is also a whispering gallery from which you look down into the church from above.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8:30am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Dr. Samuel Johnson's House

11) Dr. Samuel Johnson's House

Dr Johnson's House is a writer's house museum in London in the former home of the 18th-century English writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson.

Built at the end of the seventeenth century by wool merchant Richard Gough, it is a rare example of a house of its era which survives in the City of London. Four bays wide and five stories tall, it is located at No. 17, Gough Square, a small L-shaped court in a tangle of ancient alleyways just to the north of Fleet Street.

Johnson lived and worked in the house from 1748 to 1759, paying a rent of £30, and he compiled his famous A Dictionary of the English Language there. The house features paneled rooms, a pine staircase, and a collection of period furniture, prints and portraits. There are exhibitions about Johnson's life and work.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Ye Olde Chesire Cheese

12) Ye Olde Chesire Cheese

Quite possibly London's most iconic public house, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has been around since the days of Pepys and Wren, and is known for its literary associations, having seen among its regulars, at some point, such luminaries as Samuel Johnson, G.K. Chesterton, Mark Twain, George Orwell and Charles Dickens. Established in 1538, this is one of London’s oldest pubs, rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666. Certain parts of its lower cellars are even older.

The building was previously home to a monastery, and as such has a dizzying array of chambers, cellars and tunnels underneath. The small portion of the pub above ground consists of a wood-panelled dining room and a small bar, which usually has sawdust sprinkled on the floor. Located on Fleet Street, London’s former historic home of Britain’s major newspapers, ‘the Cheese’ has long been a popular haunt of weary hacks seeking sustenance.

***Charles Dickens Tour***

Charles Dickens had been known to frequent this place, and it is alluded to in his "A Tale of Two Cities": following Charles Darnay’s acquittal on charges of high treason, Sydney Carton invites him to dine, "drawing his arm through his own" Carton leads him to Fleet Street "up a covered way, into a tavern … where Charles Darnay was soon recruiting his strength with a good plain dinner and good wine".

Presently owned by Sam Smith’s Old Brewery, this pub is an unmissable opportunity to soak in the watering-hole atmosphere of yesteryear’s London, walking in the footsteps of a few literary greats (and many lesser drunks).

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