The Tower of London
By Karen Richards |
Visit the Tower of London to meet the ghost of Anne Boleyn, see the British Crown Jewels and discover part of the history of Great Britain.
A MUST-SEE IN LONDON
Imagine visiting an authentic castle! In your trip to England you’ll have the chance to do so. North of the River Thames, in London’s center, you’ll find the White Tower surrounded by several constructions that make up a unique and magnificent complex. For this reason, DINKtravelers wants to invite you to visit this historical site while discovering the legends around it.
HISTORY OF THE TOWER OF LONDON
This monument’s original name is Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress. It was built in 1066 under the reign of William I, the Conqueror, as part of the Norman conquest of England. It has served different purposes including being a prison and an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, a public record office and even home of the Crown Jewels of England. In addition, many public executions of traitors to the British Crown took place here.
The White Tower, which gave the castle its name, expanded throughout time. Later, the building deteriorated until architects Anthony Salvin and John Taylor began its restoration in the 20th century, bringing it back to its original imposing aspect. After the World Wars, its doors opened for visitors and it became one of London’s most iconic tourist sites.
In 1988 UNESCO listed The Tower of London as World Heritage, in recognition for it being an authentic medieval castle and for its worth in British history.
ARCHITECTURE OF THE TOWER OF LONDON
The Tower of London brings together several constructions that span over 4.9 hectares in total. The main courtyard faces the southern part of the White Tower and long ago it nestled a trench that was later closed. The inner and outer yards are also very important areas in the premises. There you will get the chance to enjoy walks, guided tours and see the castle walls from inside.
Some of the buildings that make up this architectural complex and that you’ll get the chance to visit are:
- White Tower: It’s the main building and it’s 27 meters tall. Here they built a crypt that was used to keep valuable objects while on the ground floor there was a residential chamber that was located near St. John’s Chapel.
- Wakefield Tower: It was named like this after the Battle of Wakefield which took place on December 30th 1460, and in which the Duke of York’s army battled against Queen Margaret of Anjou’s army. This happened during the War of the Roses. Later, the tower was used as an archive and as an exhibit center for the Crown Jewels.
- Beauchamp Tower: It was named after Thomas de Beauchamp, twelfth duke of Warwick, who was imprisoned there. It was built in 1281 and inside you can still find writings on the walls from the prisoners that were locked up there.
- Martin Tower: It was built during the Tudor family reign and it was used as a prison.
- Bloody tower: It was the main entrance to the inner yard from the River Thames until they built Saint Thomas’ Tower. Only high status prisoners were held there. It was called Bloody Tower because of all of the executions that took place there.
LEGENDS OF THE TOWER OF LONDON
There are many legends surrounding the Tower of London, particularly because it was used as a prison and a place for executions. One of the most famous legends says that Anne Boleyn’s ghost appears sometimes around the fortress, walking, her body beheaded. Remember that she was Henry VIII’s second wife and that she was executed in the Tower of London after being accused of adultery and incest.
Another legend is based on the fact that the building is inhabited by hundreds of ravens. These birds are said to protect the tower in appreciation for King Charles II’s protection. He established a decree through which these birds must be protected after a prophecy said that if the ravens ever abandoned the castle, the British monarchy would come to an end. These sacred birds are under the custody and care of the Master Raven Keeper and the 40 honor guards that live there.
Like these, there are many other stories you’ll discover when you visit this beautiful and mysterious place. Above all, we recommend taking one of the free guided tours of the Tower of London offered by the tower guards, also known as Beefeaters or Yeoman Warders. The tours are very enlightening in a historic sense but at the same time they’re truly fun, especially if you enjoy the British sense of humor.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS IN THE TOWER OF LONDON
At DINKtravelers we invite you not only to enjoy the legends but also to discover the Crown Jewels. You’ll be in awe at these relics. Also, you’ll get to enjoy a tour about the evolution of the royal crowns that have been used in Great Britain, and learn about the importance the diamonds kept at Martin Tower have had.
You’ll get to see sculptures, arms and the best collection of royal armors ever at the White Tower, so you’ll also get to appreciate the different tastes the British monarchs had.
Finally, visit (without staying, of course) the dungeons of the Tower of London. There you’ll see where criminals and detractors of the monarchy were imprisoned –particularly those who angered the famous Henry VIII– before they were executed. Don’t worry, they’ll let you out after your visit… or not.
Entrance to this architectural jewel is only 4 pounds, but remember that it’s only open from March 1st to October 31st, from Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 9:00 to 17:30; and Sundays and Mondays from 10:00 to 17:30. Then, from November 1st to February 28th you can go from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9:00 to 16:30 hours; Sundays and Mondays from 10:00 to 16:·00 hours.
Lastly, discover the way in which the Tower of London commemorated the centenary of the day when Great Britain first participated in the Great War by making the art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.