London is one of the world's greatest cities, with a rich history, diverse culture and incredible amount of artistic works and architecture. It is no wonder that the city remains one of the world's go-to locations for students, business workers, artists and tourists alike. In fact, over 30 million individuals visit London every year to immerse themselves in what the city has to offer, including a multitude of museums, historical sights and unparalleled natural scenery. Moreover, the city has a plethora of highly-rated universities spread out across its entire region with specialties in a wide variety of subjects. There truly is something for everyone in the U.K.'s capital city.
The history of London itself extends back to 6,000 B.C., during the time of hunter-gatherers. In the thousands of years that followed, the city saw a number of rulers, attackers, and many tragedies, including plagues, fires and bombings during World War II. Today, the city remains the most financially prosperous in the U.K. and one of the most financially thriving worldwide. With more and more new people visiting London everywhere, it will no doubt remain very successful for years to come.
Quick Facts About London
With such a long history, London is bound to have an interesting fact or two. Below are the 5 move unique facts about this fascinating city:
- Six Ravens Keep the City From 'Falling'. Previous ruler of the U.K., Charles II, insisted that six ravens must always remain in the Tower of London, or else the 'kingdom will fall.' Though the king made this order hundreds of years ago, seven ravens in total are still maintained here to this day. Talk about a long-standing superstition!
- 'Big Ben' is Not the Name of the Famous Tower. The phrase 'Big Ben' will automatically conjure up a specific image for most -- that of the huge clock tower that strikes hourly over London. In fact, this famous tower is not even named Big Ben. Rather, in 2012, it was named the 'Elizabeth Tower' in honor of The Queen. In fact, Big Ben is the name of one of the bells in the clock.
- Over 300 Languages Are Spoken in London. London is a city of diversity, with many of the city's residents being born-elsewhere or having immigrated to the city from various other countries. Today, over 300 languages can be found in the city, though English remains its primary language.
- London Has Hosted the Olympic Games three times. One of the many records the city has broken, London has hosted the Olympic Games a total of 3 times -- in 1908, 1948 and 2012. Each period met its own challenges, but the city remains a popular choice for the Games, with some speculating another host year in the 2040's.
- Becoming a Cabbie Driver in the City is Notoriously Hard. Though the contemporary era has brought such ride-sharing services as Uber and Lyft, becoming a taxi cab driver in London was and still is an exceptionally hard task requiring years of study and the passing of The Knowledge Test.
Area of London
London remains the biggest city in the U.K., covering 600 square miles or 1,500 kilometers. It consists of 32 boroughs in total.
Things to do in London
With such a diverse and large city, it can be hard to figure out just what to do in London. Popular tourist attractions include The Tower of London, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace and St Paul's Cathedral. Shoppers will want to check out Camden Market for the best in cutting-edge style and fashion or Carnaby Street for more high-end picks. Art lovers can't miss visiting one of London's many free public museums, including the British Museum, National Gallery, or Royal Academy of the Arts. Those who enjoy more immersive experiences can have such fun adventures as taking a Jack the Ripper tour of the city's spooky places or a trip to London Dungeon to learn about the city's vibrant past.
The closest cities that border London include Watford, Slough, Crawley, Luton and Chelmsford. London is also surrounded by plenty of bodies of water beside the famous River Thames, including numerous lakes in many of the city's natural parks. Some of the most popular include lakes in Victoria Park, Hyde Park and Regent's Park.
Thankfully, there are several ways to travel to and from London for every kind of traveler out there. London's railroad system remains a favorite for many due to its ease and efficiency, with King's Cross acting as the main railroad hub. Alternatively, those driving can use the country's motorways, with the M25 motorway being London's biggest. Alternative routes include taking the M1, M2, M3, M4, M11, M20, M23, M25 and M40 motorways. Lastly, the major airports include Heathrow and Gatwick. These airports can be connected to London via railway, subway, buses or cabs.
Anyone could spend a lifetime in London and still not have enough time to explore all that the city has to offer, making it one of the most exciting and intriguing cities on Earth!