There are many sights and memorial places a visitor will want to see in London. Trafalgar Square is one of the tourists centres of the city. In the middle of the square there is Nelson' s Column, erected in the 1840s to celebrate the victory of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
On Trafalgar Square is a place for rallies, marches and political meetings. It is often the scene of stormy demonstrations for nuclear disarmament, for "Jobs, not Bombs!".On holiday evenings there are crowds in the square, and even on cold autumn and winter nights – like Bonfire Night (November 5) or New Year's Eve – some students will strip and climb on top of the still flowing fountains.
A wide street called the Mall runs south-west of Trafalgar Square. The street is decorated with gilded crowns and banners whenever there is a state visit or any other excuse for a procession. The Mall leads to Buckingham Palace (known colloquially as Buck House), which is the British monarch's main residence in London. It was built as a country house for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, and was bought by King George Ш in 1762.
Today the Palace contains 600 rooms. The interior and the gardens are never open to the public except for those who are invited to Garden Parties or other formal ceremonies. The Royal Standard flying above the east front of the Palace indicates that the monarch is in residence.
If you return to Trafalgar Square and walk along Pall Mall (a street running parallel to the Mall), you'll come up to St. James's, which was the London home of the British kings and queens in the 17th-19th centuries. Although the Palace is no longer the royal residence, the court of the British monarch is still officially known as the Court of St. James's. This is an old tradition.
Whitehall and Parliament Street lead directly into Parliament Square, with the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The square has many statues including Richard the Lion-Hearted and Oliver Cromwell, several British statesmen and foreign figures such as Abraham Lincoln. Seen across Parliament Square, the Houses of Parliament seem at first an incoherent complex of elaborate spires and towers. But their medieval look is misleading. Many people are surprised to discover that they were built between 1840 and 1852, the exception being the genuinely ancient core of the complex, Westminster Hall, which was first built in Westminster Hall was part of an old palace. The present Houses of Parliament occupy the site of the palace and hence received the name the Palace of Westminster.
The Palace of Westminster has two miles of corridors and more than 1000 rooms. When Parliament is sitting, a flag files from the Victoria Tower (the tallest tower of the complex) and a light shines by night. Victors can watch the House of Commons and the House of Lords at work from the Stranger's Gallery.
Close to the Houses of Parliament stands Westminster Abbey. The first church on this site was an abbey dedicated to St. Peter. "West Minster" means "western monastery", showing its geographical relation to the City of London. In Westminster Abbey most British monarchs since William the Conqueror have been crowned, and here you may see the ancient Coronation Chair. Many British kings and queens are buried in the Abbey.
The City is the oldest part of London, and it contains very many sights: the famous London Stone, a relic of the Saxon times; the Monument commemorating the Great Fire of London; St. Paul's Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren; the Mansion House, an official residence of the Lord Mayor; the Barbican, a new residential and cultural centre
South-east of the centre of the City is the Tower of London, which celebrated its 900th birthday in 1978, taking that date from the year that William the Conqueror began to build on the site. The Tower was first built for the purpose of protecting and controlling the city. In the past it has been a fortress, a palace, and a state prison. Now it is a museum visited by about two million people a year. It is still a military fortress, and here you'll see the troops of crack regiments as well as the Yeomen Warders.
The oldest part of the fortress is the White Tower. The Bloody Tower is the most infamous, for here many important prisoners in bygone days were confined and tortured. Many dukes, kings and queens, other aristocratic pretenders to the throne lost their heads on the block that stands in the Tower's courtyard.