tower of london

Tower of London

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Why you must see Tower of London

Why You Must See This Castle

The amazing Tower of London is situated in the middle of the city, along the Thames River. With metropolitan life bustling all around it, this fascinating one thousand-year old castle and fortress, harbours spooky tales. You must see it while you’re in London and I’ll tell you why.

Why you must see Tower of London

I drove around looking at it before working up the courage to actually visit. I know, yes, I’m a bit of a chicken. And of course being cold and gloomy, it seemed even more scary. But I finally decided to put my big girl pants on and venture in, not by myself, of course, are you kidding?

Why you must see Tower of London

Thankfully there weren’t too many tourists being Wintertime, so my family and I walked straight in through the main archway.  But I felt like I was going back in time to a previous life that wasn’t going to end well.

However, inside the main courtyard it’s actually very pleasant. The central tower has been well maintained and is quite beautiful.

Tower of London

History

The Tower’s construction began in 1066 during Norman times and was designed to subdue and terrify Londoners and to protect against foreign invasion.

Over the centuries it has been used for numerous different purposes: a royal palace, a fortress, barracks, a prison, an arsenal, executions, a zoo, a mint, a museum and for housing the Crown Jewels, including coronation regalia, which are not kept at Buckingham Palace as one would expect.

Tower of London

So much going on in the one place, it’s unbelievable. If only the walls could talk. Formal history books don’t date back that far, so early information about the place isn’t accurate.

Tower of London

White Tower

The White Tower in the centre of the whole castle is built as a fortified ‘keep’ and is probably why it was made a royal residence. It’s a lovely Romanesque style building that has white-washed features, hence the name.

Tower of London

Bloody Tower

The whole castle sits on 7 hectares, has 2 sets of walls around the property and a moat. There are also numerous towers, I counted 24 of them, drawbridges, 2 chapels and a huge dungeon. One of the towers is called the Bloody Tower! I can only imagine what sort of ‘bloody’ things took place in there. I have chills thinking about it.

Tower of London

Menagerie

In the past it was considered a status symbol by royals to have a menagerie of exotic animals for their own enjoyment. The Royal Beasts exhibitions included lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys, alligators and more. This went on for hundreds of years. But unfortunately they were often mistreated.

Tower of London

Prisoners

Many famous people were held captive and died here. Two of King Henry VIII’s wives, one being Anne Boleyn, whose ghost apparently wanders around at night carrying her head (scream). Two young Princes, brothers, 9 and 12 years old, whose bodies were never found, were assumed murdered by their uncle Richard III, after they were locked up in the tower instead of taking their rightful place on the throne.

Tower of London
Where prisoners awaited their fate

Other people detained here were common criminals, clergymen, Jesuits and political prisoners. Some were put through excruciating torture for days, then executed. Others escaped and lived to tell the tale.

Here’s a fun fact for you: there have been 22 executions here.

Did you need to know that? Probably not, but there you have it.

Tower of London
Prisoner carvings

Today

These days the Tower is open as a Museum, showcasing historical artefacts from one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Why you must see Tower of London

The displays include royal suits of armour from previous kings, horse statues, weapons, royal regalia and most notably, the Crown Jewels, which are the most popular attractions. And, yes they are the real deal. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed of the jewels (very disappointing).

Why you must see Tower of London
Line of Kings

Jewels

Speaking of jewels, here’s another fun fact: do you know what they are estimated to be worth in total? Wait for it … Between 3 and 5 billion pounds! Yep. But the actual value of the crown jewels is priceless, of course. There are more than 23,000 gemstones, including the world’s largest clear-cut diamond. Want to know the size of that, for all you diamond enthusiasts like me? A whopping 530 carats. Ok, you can close your mouth now.

Why you must see Tower of London
House of the jewels when not in use

Guards

The Beefeaters, the ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London, are there to greet and guide tourists, However, they were originally for guarding the prisoners.

Fun fact: they were given their name because they were allowed to eat as much beef as they wanted from the King’s table.

The Grenadier guards are also on full display, changing back and forth as they do. Tried chatting to one, but not very sociable!

Why you must see Tower of London
Grenadier Military Guards with bearskin fur caps

Finally

There you have it – why you must see the amazing attraction that is the Tower of London. If you need more reasons to see the tower:

  • it’s an iconic landmark of England.
  • it’s a UNESCO heritage listed site.
  • entry is free with the London Pass, or £26 per ticket.
  • you can take a twilight tour, if you’ve got the guts. Don’t look at me!
  • there are cafes and shops here and, of course, even a pub.

Finally, who doesn’t love to learn about the haunting stories, 3 million people per year do in fact! I highly recommend a visit to this old castle and fortress, which will undoubtedly send a shiver up your spine.

TIP: Allow about 3 hours.

Why you must see Tower of London

I hope you have enjoyed my article on why you must see the Tower of London. Now, off to the tower!

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2 thoughts on “Tower of London

  1. I live in London and the Tower of London is definitely an attraction I recommend to visitors. From the rich history to the mysterious ravens on the grounds, it’s a must see in the capital. I agree with your tips 100%!

  2. This is such a good post, especially if you have never been in London or this sight in particular. I love how you are describing what to expect from the place, it is something I would love to know if I would be a first timer there.

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