6 Feb 2020 — Thames River Sightseeing
Westminster (nearest pier: Westminster) is a fabulous place for a day out in London. Westminster has been the seat of power in the capital for centuries: King Canute built a palace in the vicinity, Edward the Confessor had a great abbey built nearby, and Henry VIII instructed Whitehall Palace to be built which was the residence of Tudor and Stuart monarchs until it burned down in 1698 (some of the ruined foundations can still be seen outside what is now the Ministry of Defence). Here are some of the great things to do in Westminster and some of the most iconic places to visit:
Westminster Abbey and Museum
Westminster Abbey has over a thousand years’ worth of history. It has been where all Kings and Queens have been coronated since 1066, and it is also the final resting place of 17 monarchs. As well as a place of worship, it is home to many important artefacts. You can visit the medieval features of Pyx Chamber, see statues of modern martyrs, visit Poets’ Corner and the royal tombs as well as taking a walk around the beautiful Abbey Gardens.
The Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament, is the oldest royal palace in London and a world heritage site. It was built on the site of a medieval palace, and it has been in continuous use since the first half of the 11th century. Today the iconic Houses of Parliament are at the centre of British Government, the meeting place of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. You can take a tour around the buildings and have afternoon tea in wonderful surroundings beside the River Thames.
Number 10 Downing Street
Just a few minutes’ walk up the road from the Houses of Parliament is Number 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister. So many world leaders have photographed in front of the door to Number 10 and many important announcements are made from here. Although you can’t actually get close to Downing Street you can still take a photo of the iconic black front door.
Buckingham Place and the Changing of the Guard
Buckingham Palace is the home of The Queen, the focus of national and royal celebrations as well as the backdrop to the regular Changing the Guard ceremony. You can explore the magnificent State Rooms and there are exhibitions, courses, lectures, activities, and private tours available. While you’re there it is always worth watching the magnificent The Changing of the Guard ceremony.
The Jewel Tower was built around 1365 to house Edward III’s treasures. It’s an intriguing place to visit. It’s one of only two buildings from the medieval Palace of Westminster to survive the fire of 1834 and it features a 14th-century vault. There is an exhibition located over three floors. You can learn about the Tower’s changing role over the centuries and get the chance to look at a model of the old medieval Palace of Westminster and there are ornate ceiling carvings from the 14th century and replicas of precious treasures.
St James’s Park
St James’s Park is a lovely park to visit. You can have a stroll around the 57 acres of parkland and take a look at the park’s famous flower beds at the front of Buckingham Palace. Visit the café and take in the wonderful views of the lake and fountain.