London is a city which is renowned the world over for its stunning and beautiful architecture. From historic buildings to contemporary creations, there are hundreds of different styles and hundreds of unique buildings dotted all over the city. Whether you have a particular interest in engineering and architecture or whether you just want to take the opportunity to see some of London’s greatest buildings up close the next time you visit the capital, we have gathered together a list of what we believe are some of the most iconic constructions in London:-
Westminster Abbey has seen more than 1,000 years of history. It has been the location of coronations, weddings and burials for some of the most famous names in British history. The present Abbey building dates mainly from the reign of King Henry III and was constructed on the site of an existing 11th century Benedictine Abbey. The majority of the Abbey itself is around 700 years old and with more than 1 million tourists taking the time to visit each year, we know that you won’t fail to be impressed. There are tours available in a variety of languages for non native-English speakers or you can simply make your own way around the Abbey and take in some of the treasures and wonders situated here for yourself.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Formerly known as the St Pancras Chambers, this hotel is a vast building situated near to the well known St Pancras train station. It has more than 200 rooms, a clock tower which stands at 260 feet and a grand staircase which is probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Now widely considered to be one of the most romantic buildings in London, this hotel has been sympathetically restored to highlight the architectural features which made it such a masterpiece in the first place; gothic metalwork, gold leaf work on the ceilings and hand-stencilled designs on the walls are just some of the truly special elements which make this building well worth visiting.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Another of London’s top attractions and one which, again, has its roots in religious history is St Paul’s Cathedral. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1673 and is a truly awe-inspiring building to see up close. It has a very recognisable dome which makes it visible from various vantage points around the city but up close you will see all kinds of interesting details which may, at first glance, escaped the eye such as the pineapple which is located on the dome itself. Apparently Sir Christopher Wren was rather partial to the fruit and placed them on a number of his other buildings around the city. As well as the rather impressive building, St Paul’s Cathedral is also home to the tombs of some very famous figures such as Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. The cathedral is just 15 minutes from the Montcalm Hotel London via public transport.
For a great example of some of the more contemporary buildings which make up London’s skyline, you can’t go wrong with the Gherkin. Otherwise known as 30 St Mary Axe, this building was given the nickname ‘the Gherkin’ due to its strange resemblance to the vegetable. It stands at 180m tall and is certainly one of the most recognisable buildings in the city. It’s also a great place to visit if you want to see a fantastic 360 panoramic view of the rest of London and there is a wonderful restaurant here too.
Another fine example of contemporary architecture in London is The Shard and since it was constructed it has certainly become one of the city’s most famous landmarks. The building itself is an interesting mixture of offices, hotel rooms and restaurants, as well as being home to the more well known ‘View from the Shard’ experience; London’s highest viewing platform which offers a view of the city, allowing you to see for more than 40 miles on a clear day.
As a city built on trade, one thing London has never been short on is bridges; at last count there were around 33 bridges spanning the River Thames and connecting one bank to another. However, there is one bridge which truly stands about from the rest and that is Tower Bridge. Twin towers connected by horizontal walkways (which can be climbed if you visit the Tower Bridge Experience offering amazing views over the River Thames itself as well as offering an in-depth look at the history of the Bridge) and most recently changed to a colour scheme of red, white and blue in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, this is a stunning landmark in the city. If you opt for a river cruise whilst visiting London you may even be lucky enough to see the bridge lifting to allow larger river vessels to pass through, something which only happens every so often.
Union Chapel, Islington
Situated in North London, Union Chapel is a Grade I listed building designed in a gothic style. It is an architectural treasure with a number of stunning details from the stained glass window in the shape of a rose to the beautiful carved ceiling. From the outside, the chapel doesn’t look particularly inspiring but inside is pretty spectacular. You can visit outside of congregational meeting times although the chapel is also regularly used for charity events and concerts.
The Royal Exchange
Although originally founded in the 16th century by merchant Thomas Gresham as a centre of commerce, the Royal Exchange building has twice been burnt to the ground and rebuilt; the current building dates back to the 1840’s. The rather grand building looks almost Grecian in it’s design and seems somewhat out of place on the bustling London street but is full of intricate detailing and design which is well worth taking the time to investigate.