London is a beautiful city with beautiful scenery, and let’s not even talk about the architectural distinctiveness.
From the skyscrapers to the medieval buildings, so many buildings in London will stick with you down memory lane.
Looking for buildings to visit in London or even to stay in, then you are in the right place. But, first, let’s look at famous buildings in London with their uses and why they made it to the list.
Famous Buildings in London
1. 30 St. Mary Axe(The Gerkin)
The Gherkin, officially known as the 30 St. Mary Axe, is London’s first skyscraper in the shape of a bullet.
Designed by Norman Foster and Arup Group, it is a contemporary commercial building that sits in the city’s financial district. It is 180 meters high with 41 floors.
It is visible from a long distance but has been downgraded by other taller skyscrapers, which sprung up over the years.
The building embodies an environmental strategy where the shape maximizes the natural light and ventilation entering the building. This ensures minimal consumption of energy in the building, unlike similar towers.
Since its completion, the building has won architectural awards such as the 2003 Emporis Skyscraper Award.
The Gherkin is featured in movies such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. However, with its silhouette architectural work, the tower remains an excellent place to work and relax as you take in the breathtaking views of the city.
2. St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is hard to miss with its skyscraper dome, a masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren designed in the English Baroque style. An Anglican cathedral where the Bishop of London sits. Its embellished golden interior and amazing views from the Golden Gallery at the dome make this building worth a visit.
So many events have occurred in this building. It is where the funerals of the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelson happened (two infamous names of British political and military history), whose tombs are in the crypt.
There are other historical events, such as the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II and jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria.
It is a working church to date with daily masses and hourly prayers. Tourists pay a fee to tour the cathedral, but it’s accessible to members going to worship.
3. The Shard
The Shard is the tallest building in London and the UK. The 72-story skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano commands the city 309.6 meters high. You will get a strikingly vertical city inside the building. It plays host to 24-story offices, restaurants, bars, and hotels.
Since it’s the tallest building in London, you expect nothing but the city’s most beautiful views at The View, where you get 360-degree views up to 40 miles. In addition, it plays host to the famous, luxurious Shangri-La Hotel. The restaurants at 301m high offer fine dining with exquisite cuisines and a view.
World-renowned sculptor, Jaume Plensa, unveiled the first sculpture installation in London at the Shard in September 2021. The statue is strategically for people to air their thoughts as they walk through the Shard Quarter.
London’s icon offers a place to live, work and enjoy things all in one building. A reminder of imaginations that came to reality to influence change.
4. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is a royal residence for the monarch of the UK. It is the Queen’s official residence and home to most royal celebrations like the Platinum Jubilee. In addition, it is a focal point for the British during national mourning or rejoicing occasions.
The building has endured bombings from the Second World War. It also hosts visiting foreign heads of state, be it for business or pleasure. They are hosted in the Belgian suites named after King Leopold I of Belgium, Queen Victoria’s uncle.
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Buckingham Palace is open to residents and tourists during the summer when the Queen is not in residence since 1993.
You can visit the State Rooms, art collection, and the Queen’s garden with a timed admission charge. In addition, however, you can see the Changing of the Guard ceremony that happens four times a week for free.
5. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is a royal church with over a thousand years of history. It is one of the UK’s notable buildings and a place of coronation and burial for most of Britain’s monarchs. As a result, it is often known as Britain’s Pantheon, like Paris has.
The coronation of almost every English and British monarch has been at Westminster Abbey. King Edward’s Chair that most English and British kings and queens sat on during coronation is now in the Abbey in St. George’s Chapel. It is the most valuable piece of furniture in the world.
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Royal weddings have also been held at the church, like Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, with Ms. Catherine Middleton. The burial of the royal family is also in the abbey. Edward The Confessor’s relics are in a shrine in the abbey.
With all its ancient interior decor, Westminster makes the church worth a visit as it is a jewel of London, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries are now available for public viewing.
6. Big Ben
The Great Bell is one of the five bells at Elizabeth Tower clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster which has earned the nickname Big Ben. Big Ben is on the Elizabeth Tower, which was renamed in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth III. It’s the most iconic clock in the world.
Augustus Pugin designed it, the largest bell out of the five in the tower. Monarchs and prime ministers have gone since the bell first struck in Westminster, London. This makes Big Ben a British cultural icon and a symbol of democracy.
The tower has been a Grade I building since 1970 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Big Ben has survived bombings, but the tower underwent renovations to restore its original glory in 2017.
Big Ben has fed the imagination of film, books, and art industries. Any film production in the country uses the clock tower as a country’s symbol. It is also the center for celebrations such as New Year. In addition, the bell is rung during national events such as monarch funerals.
Big Ben is an essential part of London and a must-see. A tour of the tower is free.
7. Tate Modern London
Tate Modern is one of the four art galleries in London. It is in the former Bankside Power Station. A gem designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott is home to international and contemporary art. Two hundred meters long, it is one of the largest museums in the world.
Entry to the art museum is free, and members enjoy unlimited free admission. Art at the Tate is a hundred years old up to recent years. Art is arranged according to themes and not in chronological order.
The Tate Modern has other facilities in the building, such as the Starr Auditorium and the exquisite Tate community garden. However, the monumental icon is the most visited museum in London.
8. British Museum
The British Museum is a public museum in London dedicated to over two million years of human history, arts, and culture. It was the first public museum worldwide.
Sir Robert Smirke designed it with a Greek Revival exterior. So you get an experience through time, cultures, and continents all in one place.
The museum started as diverse but has recently focused on cultural antiquities. The British Museum was separated from the British Library by the British Library Act in 1972 but remained in the same Reading Room. The British Museum was started based on the collections of Sir Hans Sloane and Sir Robert Cotton.
The British Museum’s famous artifact is the Rosetta Stone inscribed with three types of a decree from the Ptolemaic dynasty in Memphis, Egypt, 196 BC. Entry to the British Museum is free, and there is something for everyone.
9. Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall is a magnificent circular concert hall managed by a charity. It’s one of the UK’s most distinctive buildings, often used to host events such as concerts, BBC Proms, and classical shows such as operas.
The auditorium earned its name upon Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1867 in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert.
The hall is a Grade I building designed by Rowland Mason Ordish to fulfill the intention of Prince Albert Consort. The auditorium has been host to so many events. Annual BBC Proms (Sir Henry Wood Promenade Concerts) is hosted every summer with classical music concerts daily.
The Classic Brit Awards have also been held at the hall every year in May since 2000. The auditorium has also featured in multiple famous films like The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix.
Royal Albert Hall has an event now and then for every occasion, and anytime you visit, you won’t be disappointed.
10. Lloyd’s building
The world’s renowned Lloyd’s building is the home of Lloyd’s of London insurance institution.
Designed by Richard Rogers and Partners, it is nicknamed the Inside Out Building because of its machine-like exterior functions like elevators and pipes on the exterior of the building. It is 88 meters with 14 floors.
It achieved Grade-I listed status in 2011. It was the first building to achieve this accolade in a short period. However, the building’s outside services, such as pipes, elevators, and air ducts, have led to expensive maintenance costs.
The tower has also featured in movies such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers. However, visits to the building are only for insurance businesses and university or business-related studies sponsored by Lloyd’s broker.