Tower of London
Time Out says
Experience London’s multifarious history, from the flamboyant to the frightful, with a nosey around this eleventh-century fortress
While it sits low in the London skyline, the Tower of London remains one of the capital’s best and most well known historical attractions. Plus it’s situated next to the iconic Tower Bridge, so you’d be hard pushed to miss this medieval spectacle.
Exhaustively huge throngs of people visit daily, but don’t let that put you off, because if you can handle them then you can delight at the sight of the crown of Queen Victoria or the prodigious codpiece of King Henry VIII (whatever floats your boat more).
This towering fortress goes back over 900 years, which covers a hell of a lot of torture, prisoners, weapons and exotic animals. No you haven’t misread that last bit: up until the closure of the menagerie in 1830 many beasts were kept at the Tower, including King John’s lions and Henry III’s three leopards, a polar bear and an African elephant.
There’s easily a whole day’s worth of activities here, beyond the long-emptied moats of this great castle. Interactive displays showcase the ostentatious and contentious lives of British monarchs of yesteryear. Get the nitty gritty lowdown on a tour led by one of the brilliant Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters), dressed in full costume. But know that despite its bloody reputation (and boy was it) the Tower wasn’t a place of murder, with only 19 executions ever having taken place there. And interestingly enough, it was used as a prison right up until the ’50s, when the East End’s notorious Kray Twins were briefly banged up there
Arrive early to get a glimpse of the infamous Crown Jewels, because later in the day the queues grow to ginormous proportions. If jewellery is not your bag, head on over to the White Tower where you’ll find a collection shiny torture tools. Known as the Royal Armouries, this ancient Norman keep contains swords, suits of armour for both humans and horses, poleaxes, halberds, morning stars (spiky maces) and other means for separating limbs from torsos.
There's also a redisplay of the Line of Kings – an original exhibition dating back to the 1680s – which includes wooden horses carved by the prolific sculptor Grinling Gibbons, Henry VIII's armour and a scale model of tilting knights.
For the little ones, there are swordsmanship games, coin-minting activities and even a child-sized longbow.
VIDEO: Inside the secret pub where only Beefeaters are allowed
|Transport:||Tube: Tower Hill/Tower Gateway DLR|
|Price:||£25, £19.50 concs., £12 children (ages 5–15), £45–£63 family|
|Opening hours:||9am–5.30pm Tue–Sat; 10am–5.30pm Sun–Mon|
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