London is a place that is full of interesting sights. One needs to mention only a few like the Eye of London, Madame Tussauds, Tower of London and the National Gallery. These are all well-known and they attract numerous tourists each year. But what of the less-known and less-visited places? There is large number of hidden gems in London, which you can find only if you go out of your way. Here are few suggestions to spark your interest:
- The Royal Observatory - if you would like to stand at the centre of time, the Royal Observatory is the place to look for. The Observatory is best known for the fact that it is the location of the prime Greenwich meridian. If you would like to view the galaxy from the country’s largest refracting telescope and learn more about the universe in the only planetarium in London, then the Royal Observatory is where you have to go.
- Highgate Cemetery - if you are not spooked by the idea of visiting a cemetery by guided tour, the Highgate Cemetery offers a perfect opportunity. This landmark offers the visitor historic, cultural and wildlife attractions. The cemetery is divided into two: East and West. Victorian architecture dominates the place, as well as some notable features, such as the Circle of Lebanon and the Egyptian Avenue, which are structures of great architectural and cultural importance. Multiple Gothic buildings and tombs fill the site. There is a great variety of wildflowers, trees and shrubbery on the grounds of the cemetery, all naturally grown with no human influence.
- Thames Barrier - this marvelous wonder of engineering is located near Woolwich, downstream of central London. The barrier spans 520 meters across the river, serving to protect central London from floods by tidal surges. It consists of 10 steel gates ready to be raised and stop a potential flood. The barrier is tested once a year at high spring tide. Apart from that, the gates may need to be closed and re-opened again for maintenance and cleaning and it is highly possible for visitors to watch how they work.
- Royal Hospital Chelsea - the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London, has a long history. It was founded in 1682 by King Charles II, with the intention of providing a retreat for war veterans. Currently the building serves as a retirement and nursing home for over 300 British soldiers. There is a special day dedicated to the hospital - Founder’s Day, which takes place close around 29 May every year. There are few notable features on hospital territory - chapel, statue of King Charles II, the Great Hall, the museum, which displays military artefacts and the Singora Cannon, dating as far back as 1623.
- Carlyle’s House - tucked in a quiet back street in the district of Chelsea, Carlyle’s house was the family home of famous philosopher Thomas Carlyle and wife Jane Carlyle. This Georgian terraced house dating back to 1708 was opened for public in 1895. Thomas Carlyle was a famous man of letters and it is interesting to point out that many famous writers have visited - Ruskin, Tennyson and Dickens. If you visit the place, you can be lost for hours reading letters written by Jane Carlyle about the guests that visited and more.
- The Royal Exchange - found by the merchant Thomas Gresham in the 16th century the Royal Exchange used to be a centre of commerce in London. The place has an unfortunate history, as it has been destroyed (and rebuilt) twice. The stairs of this building are known to have been the place where Royal Proclamations were read. Currently, the Royal Exchange serves as a retail centre, with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes.
Finding interesting landmarks in London is often times a question of going off the beaten path. You just have to wake your adventurous spirit.
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