The Beatles said it best in their hit song “Blackbird”: “All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.” Now’s your time—study abroad in the land of William Shakespeare, the Royal family, Sir Isaac Newton, and Harry Potter. Be inspired by everything around you, from the museums and art galleries to Buckingham Palace and Parliament. Even a simple walk around this culturally rich city or a ride on the Tube can inspire you in ways you’d never imagine.
London has long been the center of the English-speaking world. It is a city always evolving while at the same time preserving the rich cultural heritage of its eventful history. Of course, London is renowned for its famous landmarks--Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, The Royal Albert Hall, Tower Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral.
However, London is also a city of radical modernity: the Lloyds building in the City of London and Canary Wharf in Docklands offer some of the best illustrations of postmodern architecture in Europe. One area of London has the greatest concentration of visual artists in the world! Pubs are still a centerpiece of social life where Londoners from all walks of life go to chat, drink, listen to music, eat, make friends, etcetera.
The vibrant diversity of London is readily expressed in a vast and cosmopolitan range of restaurants, art galleries, its world-famous theatre scene, music, and first-class clubs. London is home to approximately 8.6 million people. It is a booming metropolis with an astonishingly international population.
The city is comprised of 32 boroughs, each with individual characteristics and unique flavor. Joseph Chamberlain’s remark in 1904 that “London is the clearing-house of the world” is truer today than ever as people from all cultures continue to pass through or settle in the metropolis. In short, London is a fascinating nexus of history and culture.
The UK Parliament is perhaps the most recognizable building in London. Comprised of the House of Commons and House of Lords, Parliament is the supreme governing council in the UK. Big Ben, commonly mistaken as the clock, is the bell in the giant clock tower. The neo-gothic architecture is representative of eighteenth century London.
Constructed in 1078 by William the Conquerer, the Tower once acted as a palace, fortress, and prison. Today, the Tower houses the magnificent Crown Jewels and many other historical artifacts. Beefeaters, the protectors of the Tower, also serve as informative tour guides.
Make sure to ask about the significance of the ravens!
"Everytime a friend came in to visit, The Tower of London was the first place I took them. I love the history, especially of Henry VIII." -Liza B., University of Illinois
Located just steps from Parliament, Westminster Abbey is the famous burial and coronation site for British royalty. King Edward's 700 year-old Coronation Chair is located in the Abbey. Since 1308, every British monarch has sat in the throne after coronation.
Hyde Park is the largest park in central London and one of the Royal Parks, famous for its Speakers' Corner. Neighboring Kensington Gardens, it covers 608 acres with its sprawling green lawns dotted with lush gardening, ponds, and trees.
"Hyde Park in London was my favorite place to go any time of day. After class, I would go get an English tea and sit by the lake and listen to the music playing from the street performers. Sometimes I would rent a row boat and study in the middle of the lake at Hyde Park Corner. I will miss it so much." -Tim G., Wagner College