Our friendly team at Happy Tourist absolutely love visiting the many wonderful attractions that London has to offer. However, if we were pressed to suggest just one of our favourite places as the top sightseeing destination that you have to visit while on your holiday here, we would say that the Tower of London simply cannot be missed!
According to data released by Trip Advisor, the Tower of London is now the most popular pre-booked attraction in the UK. It is hardly surprising to understand as the Tower is home to the British royal family’s Crown Jewels.
The Tower and grounds encompass about 12 acres and you will find many walls, ancient battlements and towers. Even though the name ‘Tower of London’ makes you think of one single tower, it actually refers to a whole lot more than just a single tower!
A big attraction is the famous Ravens that live at the Tower of London. They eat about 170 grams of raw meat a day along with biscuits that are soaked in blood. They obviously thrive very well on their diet.
A thousand years of history
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the oldest parts of the Tower of London date back to the 11th century. The Tower of London has a very gruesome past as a former prison and the site of many executions throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, including the famous 16th-century beheading of Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII, who was infamously beheaded for not giving birth to a son.
Built to be a strong impenetrable fortress, it is the perfect place to display and protect the Crown Jewels, a world-famous collection of 23,578 precious gemstones and very significant pieces that are still used in royal ceremonies today, such as during the State Opening of Parliament.
You will find the Crown Jewels on display in the Jewel House in the Tower, but the treasures are under armed guard around the clock. There are many sculptures of animals once kept at the tower, including bears, elephants, and lions.
Today the Tower is still home to about 150 people that live on-site full time.
Meet the Beefeaters
The grounds that surround the Tower are larger than people think and you get to meet the famed Beefeaters wearing their very unique historical uniforms. There are many ancient passageways to explore and there is a surprising amount of wildlife to be found in the extensive grounds despite it’s proximity to central London.
The Beefeaters have a fascinating history all of their own. Back during Tudor times Beefeaters were the Tower prison guards and were also tasked to protect the Crown Jewels that have been stored at the tower for hundreds of years.
The proper titles for Beefeaters are The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary. It is thought that their ‘Beefeater’ name comes from an ancient agreement where royalty granted them the right to eat as much beef as they wanted when dining with the King of England.
These days Beefeaters also act as the Tower tour guides and beguile visitors with their unique traditions and stories about the Tower (including stories about resident ghosts). Each night, at 9.53 pm, the Beefeaters perform the Ceremony of the Keys, this is when the Queen’s keys are examined and put away safely.
Easy access to Central London
Situated alongside the River Thames, the Tower is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers so you get a real feeling of walking through ancient times within an ultra-modern world in one breathtaking view.
The Tower is within easy reach of Central London and it’s many visitor attractions. This is why our team at the Happy Tourist think it is well worth a visit – but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore this amazing place and all the hidden treasures it holds.