With the West End, Knightsbridge and Westminster, you’d think Central London can claim to have all the capital’s attractions worth visiting. Think again, though, because East London doesn’t just possess iconic sights, but also newer essential ones no visitor can afford to miss…
St. Paul’s Cathedral
(St. Paul’s Churchyard EC4M 8AD)
Dating all the way back to the late 17th Century, architect extraordinaire Sir Christopher Wren’s Restoration masterpiece is a stunning and utterly iconic building of brilliant, beautiful grey stone that’s topped off by that unmistakeable domed roof. Officially London’s ‘people’s church’ (as opposed to the arguably stuffier Westminster Abbey, which has a stronger Royal connection), St. Paul’s has to be visited for its crypt – featuring the tombs of the legendary Duke of Wellington, Admiral Lord Nelson and Wren himself – and the extraordinary acoustics of the Whispering Gallery, the walkway around the dome which offers up incredible acoustics. Moreover, from the top of the dome you also get fantastic views of the whole of Central London – especially on bright, sunny days.
(Tower Bridge Road SE1 2UP)
How could you come to London and not pay a visit to the attraction under which David Beckham drove a speedboat during the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, through which aeroplanes have flown and even over the gap of its roadway a red double-decker London bus once ‘leapt’? Tower Bridge represents Victorian engineering at its best, as you realise when you discover its inner workings on its exhibition tour, which explains how its roadway splits in two to enable rivercraft of a certain height to pass. Indeed, the castle-like balustrade-boasting bridge also features high-level walkways that are nowadays fitted with glass floors, enabling you to experience standing 42 metres above the Thames itself – with what feels like nothing between you and the murky water way below!
And neither can you miss…
The View from The Shard
(Joiner Street SE1 9QU)
St. Paul’s finally has a genuine rival on the Central/ East London skyline in the shape of this cloud-piercing needle of glass near London Bridge that was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano (great name). Built to provide offices, posh apartments, restaurants and a hotel, it’s an all-round modern, stylish thing – so an ideal attraction should you be taking advantage of London hotels special offers, especially at a nearby luxury property like the Montcalm Royal London House hotel – but its real attraction for leisure visitors is its truly unparalleled view of the capital. From its upper floors, the panoramas are utterly spectacular. A high-speed lift takes you up 244 metres to the 69th floor for a 360° view that’ll blow you away. Then head up to the 72nd floor’s ‘Skydeck’, an open-air platform that affords an even more dramatic vista.
(Olympic Park E20 2ST)
Finally, speaking of the London Olympics, remember the crazily spiralling, bright red sculpture that stood next to the event’s stadium in Stratford? Well, it’s still there in the Olympic Park and very much open to the public to climb, walk about in and – again – take in the views of the metropolis from its summit. Sure, standing only about half the height of The Shard, it’s never going to be quite the vantage point the former is; but it’s fittingly curious selling point has to be that it’s now been transformed into a giant helter-skelter-like slide. Yes, that’s right; you can make your way to the top and then ride through its loops and down to the bottom at high speed. Not exactly an Olympic sport, but enormous fun, no question!