Palace of Westminster
House of Commons,
London SW1A OAA,
Nearest tube: Westminster
Although it is often used to describe the whole tower at the bridge end of the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, of course, really only refers to the bell inside the clock tower. However, it is famous now as the name for the tower, and remains one of the most recognisable symbols of Britain, London, and its parliamentary institutions.
Inconveniently set next to a heavily-trafficked bridge and the constant hubbub of Parliament Square, visitors to Big Ben can often find it difficult to find a place from which to get a really good look at it. On coming out of Westminster station by any of the exits and looking almost straight up, you will find it. However, its height means that if you wish to get a photograph of yourself with the tower in the background you can either venture onto Westminster Bridge to get some distance from it, or you can dodge the traffic and go into Parliament Square, when this is not blocked off because of protestors.
Originally built after the old Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire in 1834, the tower containing Big Ben was designed by Augustus Pugin (although the rest of the building was designed by Sir Charles Barry). This was the last design that Pugin completed before he went mad, and is in the Gothic Revival style. The tower is about 16 storeys high, and tops out at 316 feet, or 96.3 metres. At the time it was built, it was the largest four-faced clock in the world.
Although it is one of Britains most famous sights, the interior is not open to foreign visitors. UK residents can, if they plan ahead, write to their local MP to arrange a tour of the clock tower. They should be warned, however, that the tower has no lift, and that anyone visiting must climb 334 steps before they arrive in the bell tower.
Transport to and from Big Ben is relatively easy. Westminster tube station brings you out just underneath the tower, but the Houses of Parliament are within walking distance of Victoria, Embankment, St James Park, and even Waterloo, from the other side of the river. There are good bus links.
From Big Ben, you are close to Whitehall, and can pop across the river to see the aquarium or the London Eye. You can also walk up to Trafalgar Square or take a stroll along the river. Lambeth Palace is also not too far away on the south bank of the river, or you can take a boat trip from the Embankment.
Although it is perhaps the most famous of Britains landmarks, it is the least hospitable of any of the countrys major attractions. Not only, generally, can tourists not even go into the tower, but it is inconvenient to even try and get a good picture of it, because of the major thoroughfares that surround it. Having said all that, few visitors to London feel as if their trip is complete without their having seen the enormous clock tower gazing out over the river, and watching over the Mother Of Parliaments nestled below.
|HOTEL / APARTMENT||POSTCODE||MILES||STAR||27 Jun||28 Jun||29 Jun||30 Jun||01 Jul||02 Jul||03 Jul||04 Jul|
|Westminster Station||1||District - Circle line - Jubilee||0.07 miles|
|Embankment Station||1||District - Bakerloo - Northern - Circle line||0.71 miles|
|Waterloo Station||1||Waterloo & City - Bakerloo - Northern - Jubilee||0.73 miles|
|St. Jamess Park Station||1||District - Circle line||0.75 miles|
|Charing Cross Station||1||Bakerloo - Northern||0.82 miles|
|London Waterloo International Station||0.68 miles|
|Charing Cross London Station||0.77 miles|
|London Waterloo Station||0.78 miles|
|London Waterloo East Station||1.05 miles|
|London Victoria Station||1.52 miles|