London was the first stop on our Europe trip. We bought the Europe land tour package from a travel company and purchased air tickets separately because we wanted a flexible flight schedule.
We arrived in London five days prior to the tour so that we could visit family and friends. After that, we joined our tour for the resting of sightseeing. The tour bus drove us around London to overview the major attractions, then took us back to the hotel. Some people elected to visit places on their own, but we paid for the excursion for the guided tour. On the last day of the tour, we took the cruise around the city on River Thames.
Windsor Castle is in Berkshire, England, and was built as a motte and bailey castle by William the Conqueror (r. 1066-1087). Converted into stone by Henry II of England (r. 1165-1179), the shell keep tower was rebuilt by Edward III of England (r. 1327-1377). The castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world and the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II (r. 1953-).
As part of the admission, we received the audio device for the self-guided tour. It is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Mandarin. When we key in the room’s number or place where we were in, we could hear a full commentary.
Framlingham Castle was built during the 12th century and maintains much of its original features, including its incredible stone architecture and many features that were classic of that era. It is here Mary Tudor, “Bloody Mary,” was crowned Queen. Queen Mary I made no secret of her religious beliefs and she was a devout Catholic upon taking the throne in 1553. To convert England to Catholicism, she would persecute over 300 protestants in the name of religion. This reign of religious terror earned her the nickname of ‘Bloody Mary.’
Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarchy of the United Kingdom.
Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and a burial site and 17 royal weddings.
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London.
The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge built between 1886 and 1894, designed by Horace Jones and engineered by John Wolfe Barry. The double-leaf bascule, movable bridge raises to permit passage of a ship having masts too tall to pass under at this point.