Theme Week London

April 11th, 2011 | Destination: | Rubric: General, London, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage |

London Sunset Panorama © David Iliff

London Sunset Panorama © David Iliff

London is among the European TOP 3 locations. London, as encourager in many areas of daily life, offers a unique variety range. On the one hand vibrant life and business, on the other hand, just two streets away, almost small town feel, so that there is room for everything and everyone. London is the capital of England and the United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who called it Londinium. London’s ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile mediaeval boundaries. Since at least the 19th century, the name London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The bulk of this conurbation forms the London region and the Greater London administrative area, governed by the elected Mayor of London and the London Assembly. London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is the world’s largest financial centre alongside New York, has the largest city GDP in Europe and is home to the headquarters of more than 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies. It has the most international visitors of any city in the world. London Heathrow is the world’s busiest airport by number of international passengers. London’s 43 universities form the largest concentration of higher education institutions in Europe. In 2012 London will become the first city to host the Summer Olympics three times.

London has a diverse range of peoples, cultures and religions, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. In July 2007 it had an official population of 7,556,900 within the boundaries of Greater London, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union. The Greater London Urban Area is the second largest in the EU with a population of 8,278,251, while London’s metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between 12 million and 14 million. London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church; and the historic settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory marks the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and GMT). Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, 30 St Mary Axe (“The Gherkin”), St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions including the British Museum, National Gallery, British Library, Wimbledon and 40 theatres. London’s Chinatown is the largest in Europe. The London Underground network is the oldest underground railway network in the world and the most extensive after the Shanghai Metro. Starting in the mid-1960s, London became a centre for the worldwide youth culture, exemplified by the Swinging London subculture associated with Carnaby Street. The role of trendsetter was revived during the punk era. In 1965 London’s political boundaries were expanded to take into account the growth of the urban area and a new Greater London Council was created. During The Troubles in Northern Ireland, London was subjected to bombing attacks by the Provisional IRA. Racial inequality was highlighted by the 1981 Brixton riot. Greater London’s population declined steadily in the decades after World War II, from an estimated peak of 8.6 million in 1939 to around 6.8 million in the 1980s. The principal ports for London moved downstream to Felixstowe and Tilbury, with the London Docklands area becoming a focus for regeneration.

The Thames Barrier was completed in the 1980s to protect London against tidal surges from the North Sea. The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986, which left London as the only large metropolis in the world without a central administration. In 2000, London-wide government was restored, with the creation of the Greater London Authority. To celebrate the start of the 21st century, the Millennium Dome, London Eye and Millenium Bridge were constructed. The city of London in the United Kingdom is not characterised by any particular architectural style, having accumulated its buildings over a long period of time. Few structures predate the Great Fire of 1666, notable exceptions including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Banqueting House and several scattered Tudor survivors in the City of London. In itself, the City contains a wide variety of styles, progressing through Wren’s late 17th century churches and the financial institutions of the 18th and 19th century such as the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, to the early 20th century Old Bailey (England and Wales’ central criminal court) and the 1960s Barbican Estate. Notable recent buildings are the 1980s skyscraper Tower 42, the Lloyd’s building with services running along the outside of the structure, and the 2004 Swiss Re building, known as the “Gherkin”. London’s generally low-rise nature makes these skyscrapers and others such as One Canada Square and its neighbours at Canary Wharf and the BT Tower in Fitzrovia very noticeable from a distance. High-rise development is restricted at certain sites if it would obstruct protected views of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Nevertheless, there are plans for more skyscrapers in central London, including the 72-story “Shard of Glass”, which will be one of the tallest buildings in Europe. Other notable modern buildings include City Hall in Southwark with its distinctive ovular shape, the British Library in Somers Town, the Great Court of the British Museum, and the striking Millennium Dome next to the Thames east of Canary Wharf. The disused (but soon to be rejuvenated) 1933 Battersea Power Station by the river in the southwest is a local landmark, whilst some railway termini are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, most notably St Pancras and Paddington (at least internally). London County Council was responsible for public housing projects such as the Edwardian Bourne Estate in Holborn.

Several monuments pay homage to people and events in the city. The Monument in the City of London provides views of the surrounding area whilst commemorating the Great Fire of London which originated nearby. Marble Arch and Wellington Arch, at the north and south ends of Park Lane respectively, have royal connections, as do the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. Nelson’s Column is a nationally-recognised monument in Trafalgar Square, providing a focal point for the whole central area. Learn more about Architecture of London and List of tallest buildings and structures in London.





To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facepage pages/Twitter accounts. Read more on City of London, VisitLondon.com, London 2012, Wikitravel London and Wikipeda London. Learn more about the use of photos.

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