One of the world’s most famous fortresses, the Tower of London has seen service as a royal palace, prison, armoury and even a zoo. Today, it’s a World Heritage Site, where you’ll be dazzled by the Crown Jewels and hear tales from the Tower on tours given by the Yeoman Warders.
One thousand years of history are packed into this intriguing London tower, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. The White Tower – the iconic castle keep – houses the Royal Armouries collections, including the 350-year-old exhibition Line of Kings and striking royal armours worn by Henry VIII, Charles I and James II. Wander around the unique Chapel of St John the Evangelist, explore the stories behind the infamous Bloody Tower and find out how it came to house some very famous prisoners.
The breathtaking Crown Jewels, a powerful symbol of the British monarchy, are kept under armed guard in the Jewel Room at the Tower. The stunning collection of more than 23,000 gemstones are still used in national ceremonies to this day. Yeomon Warders, also known as ‘Beefeaters’ provide tours of the Tower of London, telling tales of imprisonment, execution, torture and treachery. Hear about prisoners who entered the castle tower through Traitor’s Gate and learn about the unfortunate inmates who met a grim fate on Tower Green.
Don’t miss the chance to see the Tower of London’s famous ravens at their lodgings on the South Lawn – it is said that the tower and the kingdom will fall if all six resident ravens leave the famous fortress, a claim dating back to the times of Charles II. There are seven of the highly intelligent birds in residence today – the six needed, plus one spare!
Getting to the Tower of London
Tower Hill tube station, served by the District and Circle lines, has step-free access and is a five-minute walk from the Tower of London. The fortress is also a walkable distance from other stations on the London Underground network, including London Bridge, Monument and Aldgate, as well as from Fenchurch Street Station and from Tower Gateway, a connection for the Docklands Light Railway. London bus routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1 also stop near to the Tower of London.
A host of other London attractions, including Tower Bridge and the Shard are minutes away on foot, while HMS Belfast is moored on the opposite bank of the River Thames. The London Eye and London Dungeon are also on the banks of the river to the west, or you can venture north for the hustle and bustle of Brick Lane and Shoreditch.