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
|Venue name:||Tower of London|
|Opening hours:||9am–5.30pm Tue–Sat; 10am–5.30pm Sun–Mon|
|Transport:||Tube: Tower Hill/Tower Gateway DLR|
|Price:||£25, £19.50 concs., £12 children (ages 5–15), £45–£63 family|
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Average User Rating
4.6 / 5
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- 4 star:14
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Being my first time to London it went without saying that I needed to visit one of the most iconic locations, the Tower of London. Being a history geek, I was tingling with excitement when entering this place. Although full of tourists, it's large and so well organized that you really can move around freely. Before.you start exploring torture chambers and suits of armor, get on a free tour with the Tower Guards affectionately known as the "Beefeaters". There commentary on this historic site is both witty and extremely interesting and sets up a good foundation for the rest of the tour. Really the only time you are going to wait for something is to see the Crown Jewels but they try keep the line moving as much as possible. It was an absolute pleasure reliving both the fascinating and obscure facts of the Tower and a must see.
Like many other reviewers I was surprised at just how big this place is, it's a mini medieval town, and just how much there is to see. It almost justifies the admission price! My daughter is studying the Tudors at school so really enjoyed herself, but there's more to learn about than just Tudors, there's ravens, the Fusilier museum, exotic animals, torture and of course you can stand on a conveyor belt and drift slowly past the crown jewels.
Always like the visit to the Tower of London. The tour is amazing. The guide was informative but not boring.
This was utterly fabulous, i mean, Wow! The whole place reeks of rich history and (golly gosh) i learnt so much about myself from this unforgettable joyous journey of an experience!
My family and I have never been to The Tower of London before, my youngest son (8 yrs old) is learning about The Tudors and Henry 8th at school, so we are thinking of visiting soon to learn more and see Henry's Armour. The review was clear and helpful. Thankyou
A Fantastic day out! Well worth having the guided tour with a Beefeater, you learn so much more than simply wandering about just looking. Crown jewels a must too!
This is easily one of the most popular attractions in London. My best photo of the Tower was taken from a boat cruise on the river Thames and there was a wedding taking place at the same time. Before visiting the Tower you need to practice being calm and patient as there are slow moving queues. If you need something to amuse yourself while waiting, you could check out the Party Ideas Incubator on YouTube from your smartphone.
I think it was a great day out but the crowd is sometimes suffocating and there's huge queues everywhere....obviously it's plenty to see but should have choosen a cold rainy day :)
It was really crowded at the end of July, but very interesting for me and my 11-year-old daughter. History alive! Also the shops were good and there were enough toilets (which is important when travelling with a child).
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