Barcelona - Barri Gòtic.
Tip 1: from La Rambla to Plaça del Rei.
Main Attractions of Tip 1 only: Placa de la Boqueria, Casa Bruno Cuadros, Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, Plaça Sant Jaume, Palau de la Generalitat, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Plaça de Sant Miquel, Plaça de Sant Just, Basilica dels Sants Just i Pastor, MUHBA Temple d'August, Plaça del Rei, Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA).
Tip 2: from Plaça del Rei and Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) to Plaça Nova.
Main Attractions of Tip 2: Museu Frederic Marès, Cathedral of Barcelona (Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia), Pont del Bisbe, Casa de l'Ardiaca, Plaça Nova.
Tip 3: from Plaça del Pi to Plaza de San Felipe Neri.
Main Attractions of Tip 3: Plaça del Pi, Plaza de San Felipe Neri.
Start: Liceu Metro station, La Rambla. End: La Rambla - Liceu Metro station. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 7-9 km.
Introduction: Do not miss the Barrio Gotico (Barri Gotic) With its iconic, old-Europe streets and alleys, this picturesque neighborhood is the very heart of Barcelona. It blends historic artifacts from its days under Roman dominion up through the Spanish Civil War with a vibrant modern-day culture of artisan shops and authentic culinary experiences. Avid explorers will be thrilled to discover quaint terraces and plazas
brought to life by the many small bars and local musicians lasting late into the night.The Barrio Gotico (Gotic Quarter) resides between La Rambla, Plaça Sant Jaume and the Barcelona Cathedral.
From the Liceu Metro station - we cross the Rambla avenue from west to east and walk a bit northward to connect with Placa de la Boqueria. The term Rambla used for this avenue, is due to Arabic, that means seasonal river. It is well tree-lined avenue with some kiosks selling handicrafts, with dining tables, with two parallel streets, which run from Placa Catalunya to the old port of Barcelona. Pla de la Boqueria is a bit north and adjacent to the mosaic by Joan Miró (created around 1976) in the Pla de l’Os. Placa de la Boqueria has many flower stalls. Note the impressive sculpture into one of the square's walls:
The Casa Bruno Cuadros or the Casa dels Paraigües (House of Umbrellas) stands in the beginning of Carrer de la Boqueria (on your left). Just make sure you look upwards at the buildings as you're walking in the la Boqueria square on the other side of Mercado La Boqueria. You might miss it without realizing it. It was 1883 when the architect Josep Vilaseca undertook the refurbishment of the Casa Bruno Cuadros and the umbrella shop on the ground floor. It was just a few years before the 1888 Universal Exhibition and Barcelona was in an hype of expansion, with interesting buildings being built all over the city. The Catalan home-grown art-nouveau movement, Modernista, was gaining momentum and, with it, the tendecy for oriental and exotic decorations. The Casa Bruno Cuadros of Barcelona, known by locals as the Casa dels Paraigües (House of Umbrellas) is an example. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s most opulent decorative element is the ornate Chinese dragon on the corner of the façade. It was used to advertise the shop, together with the umbrella below it. The building was refurbished in 1980, and the BBVA bank has, now, its premises in the stunning umbrellas shop of Barcelona.
Josep Vilaseca combined the former style of Modernista with more types of architectural elements inspired by other cultures into an eclectic building which amazes everyone who walks along La Rambla. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s balconies and the top-floor gallery are replete with Egyptian imagery. The façade features elaborate stained-glass windows as well as reliefs of umbrellas and fans made of cast-iron. Oriental motifs (people taken from Japanese prints) and enameled glasses decorate the outer walls.
Art Deco dragon at the Placa de la Boqueria:
We walk along Carrer de la Boqueria, for the whole road, from west to east. The road slights, a bit, left (to Carrer dels Banys Nous), and continues (immediately, RIGHT) as Carrer del Call. We enter labyrinth narrow streets in el Call - the Jewish Quarter. From Calle del Call turn left onto Calle de Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 35 m. In this narrow road you can can find many places of interest like the Centred Interpretació the Call (Arc de Sant Ramon). This place is in the House called the Alchemist - a very old building of 14th century. On your right, immediately as you enter this road - Hotel call. The Momo bar/restaurant is in Carrer de l'Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 6. Japan's number one outlet in Barcelona. Authentic Japanese restaurant.
Calle de Arc de Sant Ramon del Call - on the right: Centro de Interpretación del Call (MUHBA):
Turn right to Carrer de Marlet and after 30 m. you see the Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, Carrer de Marlet, 5 on your left.
Few people know however is that Barcelona is in fact home to a fascinating Jewish history, the echoes of which can still be found today in the fascinating quarter of El Call in Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic. It is said that Jewish people had lived in the region from as early as the Roman period and their culture had flourished up until the dawn of the horrendous Spanish Inquisition in 1391. They had resided in what was known as El Call (probably from the Hebrew ‘Kahal’ or ‘Kehilla’ meaning community), an area of the Barri Gòtic (Barrio Gotico). However, on August the 5th 1391 came the infamous massacre of the Jews in Barcelona causing, apart from the obvious huge loss of life, a vast fleeing from the city or at best the conversion to the Christian faith. Jewish public life virtually disappeared for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Jewish people started returning to the Catalan capital.
Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is the history of the Sinagoga Major de Barcelona – the city’s once principal synagogue, located on Carrer de Marlet 5, (or at number 7, Sant Domènec del Call street), right in the heart of the old Jewish neighborhood. inside the block lying between the streets Sant Domènec, Marlet and Arc de Sant Ramon del Call and the current Manuel Ribé square. It had tree access doors: via Marlet street,
via an alley which has since disappeared which left number 8 of Arc de Sant Ramon del Call street and the entrance at number 9 of Sant Domènec street. At the start of the street there was the entrance portal, the doorkeeper´s house and the Jewish butcher's which, although not an institution, it was the place where kosher meat was sold. With Roman foundations, the building is thought to have existed in some shape or form since the 5th century, and along with Rome’s Ostia synagogue is said to be one of the oldest in Europe. It has been described as one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. After many centuries of use for other purposes, the building re-opened as a synagogue and museum in year 2002. It is used ONLY during festive occasions. Archaeological excavations show that the original structure of the building was built in the third or fourth century; whether this structure was the synagogue is uncertain. The building was expanded during the 13th century. Medieval Barcelona is known to have had several synagogues, and the main synagogue was certainly in the immediate area. King Jaume I visited the synagogue in year 1263. Shlomo ben Aderet served as the Rabbi of the Barcelona Sinagoga Major for 50 years.
Ancient Hebrew street signs and engravings, secret Jewish baths and ancient Jewish ruins are hidden beneath and under existing cafés and shops in El Call. As we said before - the Sinagoga Major was restored and finally opened to the public in 2002. This captivating building is well worth the visit and the entrance is, especially, fascinating: a small door leading down flights of stairs to the original street level of the Roman foundations. In the left room of the synagogue you’ll notice two large windows. These windows face to the east, to the city of Jerusalem.
The building also has other interesting curiosities such as displays of Jewish items revealing a great deal about the culture and society of the community. Today no regular services are held in the synagogue however special ceremonies do occasionally take place. Tours of the building are available in both English and Hebrew. Opening hours: Summer: MON – FRI: 10.30 – 18.30, SAT - SUN: 10.30 – 14.30. Winter: MON – FRI: 11.00 – 18.00, SAT - SUN: 11.00 – 15.00.
The Menorah in the ancient Sinagoga Major:
Walk until the most northern end of Marlet street and turn right to Carrer de Sant Domènec del Call:
Do not miss the the Tinglado tapas bar in Carrer Sant Domenec Del Call, 10. This is a tiny, very low key restaurant in a lane way that you could easily walk past and miss - but don't. Very special experience and tastes - very high quality tapas with chocolate candies, salads , cakes etc'. If you do not like them, you do not have to pay for. English-speaking owner. Reasonable prices. Sweet and polite (not pushy) service.
From Carrer Sant Domenec Del Call - turn LEFT back to Carrer del Call. Walk north-east along Carrer del Call until you arrive to Plaça Sant Jaume. We shall return to Plaça Sant Jaume, but, at the moment, turn left to Carrer de Sant Honorat. This road was the epic centre of the rich Jewish community in Barcelona. On your right, in this road, is the Gothic, robust and austere facade of the Catalan Generalitat. It corresponds to the old houses of great Jewish families who left Barcelona when the Call was abolished in 1401 . At that time, the Jewish houses were confiscated and passed to private hands or public institutions. In the 17th century , the Generalitat palace was expanded under the direction of Pere Pau Ferrer, as we see it today.
In Calle Sant Honorat, 9 you see the first Catalan school opened in Catalonia:
We return southward to Plaça Sant Jaume. This is the administrative heart of both Barcelona the city and surrounding Catalonia. it derives its reputation and importance due the Palau de la Generalitat (Palace of the Generalitat) of Catalonia and the City Hall (Ayuntamento) which are located here across from one another. This square was the centre of the Roman city of Barcino. At this junction there were the forum and the Temple of Augustus, of which four columns are preserved on top of Mont Tàbor and found at the adjacent Paradís Street. The Square takes its modern name from the church of Church of Sant Jaume, The old church was demolished in 1823 when Ferran Street was being built. Its demolition also allowed for the Sant Jaume square to be rebuilt as it exists today. Prior to these demolitions, the square was limited to a small angular space, with the rest of the future plaza being occupied by the old church, its cemetery, and the houses of the Magistracy and the General Court of the Veguer. Here, in this square converged, the Cardus (now Carrer de la Llibreteria and Carrer Call), and the Decumanus (now Carrer Ciutat and Carrer del Bisbe) in the Roman era. This square has been witness to some of the most important events in recent Catalan history, such as the proclamation of the Catalan State in 1931 or the return of Josep Tarradelles from exile in 1977. On Sunday mornings, people come to dance the Sardana, the national dance of Catalonia. It is a very Catalan event and worth watching by foreigners and tourists (see Tip 2).
Festival of La Mercè in Barcelona 2016 in Plaça Sant Jaume: The words 'Mercè' in Catalan and 'Merced' in Spanish mean mercy in English. Every year at the end of September, Barcelona performs the biggest street party, the La Mercè festival in several central sites. La Mercè de Barcelona lasts 5 days and is a festival that takes place in honor of the Mare de Deu de la Mercè (Mother of God of Mercy), the patron saint of Barcelona. During the festival, which officially took place for the first time in 1902, there are hundreds of different activities that take place in the city. One of the main events is Giants (Parade of Giants) at Plaça Sant Jaume (usually at 11:00 and 16.00 on Sunday). The parade of giants is a very popular event for the whole family. Enormous giants with images of kings, queens and nobles march through the streets of Barcelona. These huge figures rise above the crowd and spin around so that the audience can see them in all their glory. The parade is usually accompanied by small percussion groups that play a rhythm with the drums while the giants pass by:
The Legend of La Mercè: according to legend on the night of 2nd August 1218 the Virgin Mary appeared to the Catalan knight Pere Nolasc. She asked him to form a sacred order of monks with her name. He did as she asked and formed the Order of Merced, which was dedicated to ransoming Christians, who had been taken prisoners by Saracen pirates during the wars of the crusades and who could not afford to pay their ransoms. The Order of Mercy was established on August 10th 1218 with the help of Nolasc's confessor at Barcelona cathedral, Saint Ramón de Penyafort, and with support from King Jaume 1 of Aragon who was also Count of Barcelona. The details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy can be seen in the Crown of Aragon Archives in Barcelona. Centuries later in 1687 the Virgin of La Mercè came to the aid of Barcelona by making a plague of locusts disappear. After the locust plague the city council elected La Mercè as co-patron saint of Barcelona although she was not officially canonised as a patron saint of Barcelona until 1868 by Pope Pius IX. Barcelona has celebrated La Mercè festival every year since 1687 and never been plagued by locusts since then. La Mercè was also briefly appointed "supreme commander" of the army during the war of Spanish succession in 1714, when Barcelona was under siege from French troops. The Virgin of La Mercè had better success fighting locusts than French soldiers because Barcelona lost the battle in 1714 and the city was captured by the French on 11th September 1714... This defeat ... is now commemorated every September 11th as the Catalunya national day:
The Palau de la Generalitat was built to provide a permanent seat for the Corts Catalanes, the Catalan Assembly set up in 1283 which is referred to as "the first parliament in Europe". The Palau de la Generalitat is one the most historically rich places in Barcelona. It is bounded by the Carrer del Bisbe, Carrer de Sant Sever and Carrer de Sant Honorat. As the name indicates, it is home to the offices of the Generalitat of Spain and houses governmental institutions. The building was built during the medieval era which makes it one of the very few structures in all of Europe from that time period. The building and its façade were designed by Pere Blai in 1596. This façade faces the Placa de Sant Jaume and is unique in the fact that it is perhaps the only façade built based on this style in all of Barcelona. The Catalan parliament was abolished in 1714, when the city fell to Philip V's army, but it was reinstated in the 20th century during the Second Republic, only to be suppressed again by General Franco after he won the Civil War in 1939. In 1977, two years after Franco's death, Spain was moving towards democracy and the former President of the Generalitat de Catalunya Josep Tarradellas returned from exile to Barcelona and uttered the historic words: "Catalans, I am here!". He spoke from the main balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, in front of Andreu Aleu's sculpture of Saint George (1860). The gallery floor, and the inner courtyard, inside, are very beautiful. Inside the building there is a superb Gothic cloister, with a staircase designed by Marc Safont, who also created the façade on Carrer del Bisbe (the former main entrance) and the beautiful chapel on the first floor, built in the flamboyant Gothic style:
Upon prior arrangement (http://www.catalangovernment.eu/pres_gov/government/en/president/palau-generalitat/visites.html), the Palau de la Generalitat can be visited on the second and fourth weekend of every month (excluding August). Each guided visit is free, lasts approximately one hour and should be prearranged by filling out the application form below. Saint George's Day (23 April), La Mercè (24 September) and the National Day of Catalonia (11 September) are all open days at the Palau de la Generalitat. No appointment is necessary. On these dates - admission is FREE.
Opposite the Generalitat Palace stands Ajuntament de Barcelona or Barcelona City Hall or Casa de la Ciutat. The neoclassical façade was, designed by Pere Llobet and built in the 14th century. There is a tourist information office on the ground floor of the building:
South to Plaça Sant Jaume resides Plaça de Sant Miquel. A nice square with modern, attractive sculptures. The most impressive sculpture is Antoni Llena’s chicken wire tribute to "Castellers" - the human beings' tower building in festivities of Catalonia. This unusual 26.5m high stainless steel tower by Antoni Llena i Font was unveiled in 2012 during the Feast of Santa Eulalia. It is titled "Homenatge als Castellers". In the real human towers the lower layers are formed by men, the middle layers by women and teenagers and the upper levels by children. The unattached part(s) at the top of the sculpture bring to mind the outstretched arm of the "Enxaneta" or small child who tops the tower:
From Plaça de Sant Miquel head northwest, 20 m. Turn right toward Placa de Sant Jaume, 40 m. Turn right onto the square further for 45 m.
Turn right 35 m. Turn left, 70 m. We arrive to Plaça de Sant Just. Placa Sant Just lies deep in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It was once the burial place of the first local Christian martyrs. Back in the Middle Ages it was the only place of Barcelona where Jews and Christians were allowed to trade legally together. A testament to that period is the 14th century fountain (Font de San Just) said to be the oldest water source in the city. Made of Montjuïc stone, it was carved in 1367 (BUT it is now a 19th century version). The fountain is bearing an image of St. Justo along with a pair of falcons and the kings’ coat of arms. Freshen up your face or fill a water bottle for a free clean drink:
The 13th-century church on the plaza, the Basilica dels Sants Just i Pastor is an ancient church, perhaps one of the oldest in the city of Barcelona. It stands on the site of the original 4th-century Christian basilica in Barcino (Roman Barcelona), and the predecessor to this Gothic church functioned as the seat of the archbishop until the city’s cathedral was constructed. The Church of the Martyred Saints Just & Pastor is said to contain remains of the two martyrs: Saint Justo and Pastor who lost their lives in the fourth century. Looking from the outside it is hard to imagine that a major part of the church represents the original Visigothic style of art and architecture and that later modifications were done on the structure. This plain stone edifice was ever used for anything as grand as a cathedral. Back in the eleventh century, this particular church was a cathedral during the time that the Romanesque cathedral was under construction:
The church boasts Gothic architecture. Some of the relics that once belonged to these two saints have been preserved in a chest and are present in this church. The entrance to the church is grand and there is a courtyard present at the left side. Looking up from the wooden benches, the magnificent stained glass windows come into sight. Walk forward and you'll find yourself in a chapel adorned with statues and chandeliers. If hungry and wish to soak up the atmosphere of the square, have a dinner outside at the famous Café de l'Academia:
From Plaça de Sant Just we zigzag towards MUHBA Temple d'August. Head southwest for 30 m. Turn right toward Plaza de San Jaime, 40 m. Now, turn left toward Plaza de San Jaime, 35 m. Turn right onto Plaza de San Jaime, 50 m, turn right 40 m and you'll see the sign of Temple Roma d'August, Carrer del Paradís,10. Temple d'August or the temple of Augustus was built during the Roman Imperial period as a temple for the Emperor Augustus. The Temple d’August is believed to have been constructed under Tiberius. The temple originally had 11 columns on every wing, one on each corner, 6 at the front and 6 on the posterior side. The original temple was destroyed at some point in history and archeologists failed to recover the remains till the 19th century. It was then that initially 3 columns of the temple, followed by the fourth one were found and are visible today near the Placa del Rei (see below) and the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya. Entry is FREE, and it's usually quite peaceful unless a passing tour pops in. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. MON: 10.00 - 14.00:
110 m. further north is the Plaza del Rey. From the Temple of Augustus we head northwest, 30 m. Turn right toward Plaza del Rey, 65 m. Turn a bit to the left and on your right is the Plaça del Rei ("King's Square"). The royal palace, the Palau Reial Major, and its surrounding buildings, enclose a noble, harmonious and peaceful square. No shops and no bars. This small square is just about history and architecture.
The imposing royal building that we see in front of us (north side of the square) is the Palau Reial Major. The palace was the residence of the Catalan counts from the 13th to the early 15th centuries, and the history of the building can be traced back even to the Barcelona of the 11th century. Its current appearance is the result of alterations carried out in the 13th century. The building is Gothic in style, but the base of the building features Visigothic and Romanesque elements. It is equipped with the watchtower of King (Rei or Rey) Martí on one side. Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: General: €7, Concessions: €5, Children: FREE. Free admission on the first Sunday of the month, and every Sunday from 15.00.
Palau Reial Major (centre of the picture):
Inside, the Great Hall, or Saló del Tinell, with its round arches, is the most representative and beautiful room in the Palau Reial Major:
On one side of the building (with your face tothe Royal Palace - on the right), on top of the old Roman wall of Barcelona. Santa Agata chapel is also known as the Royal Chapel. It was built in 1302 by order of Jaime II and his wife Blanca D'Anjou. Opening hours: TUE - SAT:10.00 - 19.00, WED: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Prices: General: €7, Concessions: €5, Groups: €5, Children: FREE:
Inside, the Agatha chapel houses the 15th century reredos of the High Constable, by Jaume Huguet, one of the landmarks in Catalan painting. A staircase that leads to the sixteenth century tower by Martín el Humano is accessed from a small room to the right of the altar:
The building opposite is the 16th-century Palau del Lloctinent, or Lieutenant's Palace, which has a beautiful Renaissance courtyard. The Palau (palace) was built in the 1550s as the residence of the Spanish Lloctinent (viceroy) of Catalonia and later converted into a convent. From 1853 it housed the Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragón, a unique archive with documents detailing the history of the Crown of Aragón and Catalonia, starting in the 12th century and reaching to the 21st. Entrance from Carrer dels Comtes de Barcelona 2:
From Placa del Rei walk eastward 30 m. along Carrer del Veguer to enter the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA). Opening hours: TUE - SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Closed: Mondays. Price: 7 euros. FREE admission every first Wednesday of the month. DO NOT MISS THIS MUSEUM. Beautifully presented Roman and early Christian excavations. Excellent voice commentary and clear directions. Most of the museum exhibitions are underground. You actually go below the streets of medieval Barcelona to see the older Roman city of Barcino. You will be blown away by the Roman archeological ruins which are very interesting and have good explanations. You follow a walk way through the Roman ruins listening to an audio guide and It is really fascinating. The Roman ruins are displayed In the basement of the museum You walk on top of the foundations and view them through a plexi-glass floor. Note: during the summer months the temperature downstairs in the MUHBA halls can be a bit too high. Expect the aircon system there to solve this problem entirely.
After entering the Museu d'Historia de Barcelona - MUHBA we shall walk around (eastward) its walls. Head southeast on Plaça del Rei toward Baixada de Santa Clara, 20 m. Continue onto Carrer del Veguer, 60 m. Continue onto Carrer de les Trompetes de Jaume I, 25 m. Turn left onto Carrer de Jaume I, 35 m. Continue straight onto Plaça de l'Àngel, 20 m. From Plaça de l'Àngel - you can see the eastern wall of the Palau Reial Major:
Head BACK southwest on Plaça de l'Àngel toward Carrer del Sots - Tinent Navarro, 20 m. Turn right to stay on plaça de l'Àngel, 25 m. Turn left onto Baixada de la Llibreteria, 60 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Freneria
20 m and walk until you arrive to Plaça De Sant Iu and see, again, the towering Cathedral of Barcelona:
From Plaça De Sant Iu - there is an entrance to Museu Frederic Mares (see Tip 2 below). We skip to Tip 2 - continuing our itinerary in the Barri Gotic. Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA).
We strolled around in the alleys of Stone and Mali Stone, and I wasn’t too impressed. We were too tired to climb the wall. We planned to take a cruise to Mljet island that day, but the cloudy weather, a two hour wait till the ferry arrived, and the fact that we hadn't booked a place for the night on the island led us, with much regret, to change our plans and to head on to Split. We admired the view along the shores and the view of each and every bay and inlet. On the way we passed by a beautiful nature reserve with lakes and islands named Baćinska jezera.
"Finally, we got to Brisbane, the city that looked so far away on the map. It took us a month, but the fact of the matter is, we are here at last. So what did we have in Brisbane? We got mail, and a lot of it, as a big chunk of it chased us along the way and the lesser part was sent here. There were letters from Sydney and Singapore, and one package even followed us all the way from Iceland!! There was McDonald’s and all kinds of maps we picked up from RACQ, postcards bought in NPWS and traveler checks cashed into real money. We didn’t go up the city tower because of an elevator malfunction. Tomorrow we’ll probably head on north, since we are not in the mood for a big and crowded city. But, importantly, we have showered, we have something to read, and tomorrow we’ll do our laundry and phone home. From the big city, all that is left is a photo of an agama that passed by the camp".
We naturally continue to the Tuileries gardens. It's the beginning of the spring, and the some trees are starting to bloom. Other trees are still bare and hibernating for the winter. We wander in the beautiful gardens. The girl was running from one statue to another, while I was trying to catch her. The local fountains didn't work (later we found out the entire city’s fountains were disabled). We realize we're approaching the Seine River, and just ahead of us, a bridge.
Surrey Quays Circular Walk.
Start: Surrey Quays Station.
End : Surrey Quays Station.
Distance: 12 km.
Orientation: History, nice city views, pure nature, tranquility and striking docks and piers - all in one ticket. In a bright day - I promise you unforgettable places. Greenford Wharf in a clear day - one of the most unexpected gems of London ! The old Surrey Docks area has now been extensively regenerated brilliantly with new buildings, eateries and warehouses. The mix of water, remains of the docklands, boats, tree-lined avenues and walking promenades in these areas - is one of the most beautiful around the globe. The walk is quite long - but extremely pleasant in a clear day. A marvelous day, especially in a cloudless day !!!
Lunch: We recommend that you'll pack sandwiches and wait, patiently, until the end of this long trip. You'll find the Nando's restaurant in the second floor of the Surrey Quays Commercial /Shopping Centre. Otherwise find a bar or restaurant in Rotherhithe. Later, it might be difficult to find an established restaurant...
From Surrey Quays Station turn left and cross the junction continuing on the left-hand side of Lower Road for about 50 metres. Turn left through China Hall Gate into Southwark Park:
Take the left fork on a path that curves around a fenced running track. Swing right at the end of the fence and follow a path near the left edge of the park. Continue until you see a block of flats. Turn right to find a lake on your left. On front of the gallery turn left and continue to follow the lake edge. Continue to the end of the lake, then turn left into the Ada Salter Garden:
Ada Salter, after whom this garden is named, was Britain's first woman Labour mayor. Exit through the gate at the far end of the garden and turn right. Turn right again at the T-junction and cross internal park drive to go down the path opposite. Take the next right, then left to pass in front of a cricket green area. While arriving to a drinking fountain, fork left to arrive at the charming bandstand from the Great Exhibition of 1851:
Continue half-right to the corner of the park. Exit the park through the Paradise Gate and go across the pedestrian crossing. To your far right, at the far side of the roundabout, is the Norwegian Church of St Olav which is hidden behingd the trees (probably, you'll see only the Norwegian flag).
Go forward into King's Stairs Gardens and take the left fork. Facing the children's play area , turn left to take the curving path which joins Fulford Street. Continue to the end of the grassed area and turn left to find a somewhat unexpected view of Tower Bridge, The Shard and the City of London:
Keep close to the river as possible and then turn left along Rotherhithe Street, between refurbished old warehouses. The St Mary’s Church is on your right. You reach the Mayflower pub. The Mayflower was the Pilgrim ship that in 1620 made the historic voyage from England to the New World (America). The ship carried religious emigrants from Holland and a largely non-religious settlers group from London. The Mayflower started its voyage from Rotherhithe.:
Turn right down St Mary Church Street and go right around the front of the church to reach Hope Sufferance Wharf in the heart of Rotherhithe village. In Hope Sufferance Wharf cargoes had checked for duty when landed. Opposite Hope Sufferance Wharf is St Mary’s Burial Ground. Opposite are two buildings: the Engine House on the right and on the left is the Watch House. Next to the Watch House is an 18th century building which once housed a school founded for poor seamen's children. The boy and girl figures show school uniforms of over 200 years ago:
St Mary’s Church was rebuilt in 1714. The church is closed most of the time. When it is open it affords a good view of the handsome interior. Nonetheless interesting is th the church burial ground. The most remarkable grave is of Christopher Jones, the Rotherhithe sea-captain who took the Pilgrim Fathers to America in 1620:
From the church, turn back and walk down Tunnel Road for 50 metres to arrive at the Brunel Museum. The drum-shaped construction marks the position of the shaft for the world's first tunnel to be driven under a navigable river by Marc Brunel and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The tunnel they built was converted to underground railway use in 1865-9 and now carries the East London Line. The project succeeded after many delays and disasters. It began in 1825. The tunnel was finally opened to pedestrian traffic only in 1843:
Turn left behind the museum, then right to continue along Rotherhithe Street, turning back to the river at Cumberland Wharf opposite Swan Road.On your right you'll see the Winchelsea Court. Do not skip it:
You face, now, the Thames river and the Thames Path. The sculpture here is titled the Sunshine Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket. It depicts the astonishment of a 17th century pilgrim at a boy reading a 1930’s comic, with a dog gazing at him. The pilgrim’s pocket contains an A-Z, dated 1620...:
Continue now between new housing, and the river as far as the circular brick building. This building marks ventilation shafts for the Rotherhithe Road Tunnel:
Return to Rotherhithe Street and cross a bridge, which raised the roadway to allow access to the main entrance of the Surrey Commercial Docks:
Go around a large inlet, still following the river:
The way forward is now blocked by the large bulk of Globe Wharf, a grain warehouse of 1863, which was later used as a rice mill:
Go around this housing project returning to Rotherhithe Street and walking up the other side of the building back to the river. Continue on, accompanied by a line of newly-planted plane trees:
As the Canary Wharf complex comes into view:
Look across the river for the entrance to Limehouse Marina and the Limehouse Basin. This is actually Regent’s Canal Dock and is one of the two exits of London’s canal system into the Thames:
The tower of St Anne Church in Limehouse soon comes into view:
As you cross another inlet, look over to the right for the Lavender Dock pumphouse which controlled the water levels in the Surrey Docks. It is now a museum. Behind this (not visible from here) is Lavender Pond Nature Park. Continue along the riverside, passing a tall obelisk:
Another former warehouse blocks the way. Descend steps to Rotherhithe Street again and turn left, soon arriving outside the Blacksmith’s Arms. 40-50 metres further on, cross to the corner of Acorn Walk. Nelson Engine House and Draw Dock opposite had a carriage by which ships could be drawn out of the Thames for repair. Next door is the elegant mid-18th century Nelson House. Go through the gate and take the forward path away from the river, taking the subway under Salter Road.
You are now in Russia Dock Woodland, formed by the infilling of one of the Surrey Docks. What a contrast to the former parts of our daily trip and other sights of Greater London ! Continue on the main path, and cross the stream and, after 80-100 metres, turn left, recrossing it again. Keep following the stream and bear right around the pond:
Go forward through a gate. Redriff Primary School is on your left. - Redriff being an old name for Rotherhithe. Go around the curve and, just before the bridge, turn right by some large granite blocks. In 40 metres, turn right again towards the mound of Stave Hill (Note: the directions to Stave Hill might be embarassing !). Stave Hill was created by re-excavated spoil from the surrounding area. At the summit, there is a bronze relief model of the Surrey Docks as they existed in 1896. The sights from the top of the mound or hill are impressive:
Avoid exploring the Ecology Park. It will be a long and exhausting walk. Too much for one day... This is a surprisingly extensive area of woodland. Better, continue on and turn right along the base of the hill before ascending steps to the viewpoint on top. Return down the steps and turn left, taking the second of two paths on the right, Stave Hill Path, passing a school on the right. On reaching the open, continue forward for 30 metres, pass through railings and turn left. Continue on a right curve along the main path and cross a bridge to an old quayside which still retains its granite edging blocks. Over the bridge, turn right.
As you approach Redriff Road, bear right through the underpass, then through the barrier to reach Greenland Dock. Turn left, then right by the Moby Dick pub to follow the water’s edge. This dock began life around 1695 as Howland Great Wet Dock, the first of London’s docks south of the river and was renamed Greenland Dock. Gradually, as the whaling trade subsided in the 19th century, general cargo, including timber and grain imports took their place. Timber especially was handled by the Surrey Docks, and four-fifths of London’s timber was unloaded here, coming mainly from Canada and the Baltic. Between the wars, Greenland Dock saw use by 'A' Class Cunard Liners, which plied between here and Canada. Surrey Commercial Docks finally closed in December 1970 and were sold to Southwark Council:
You are now walking back towards the Thames again. Cross over the repositioned Norway Cut Swing Bridge and continue on. Continue to the junction with the Thames, where Canary Wharf has now come back into view. Note the hydraulic capstan which enabled ships to make the tight turn into the lock:
Go back and cross the bridge. Turn right along the opposite side of the Dock for just 30 metres. Turn left through a short stretch of gardens by the Wibbly Wobbly floating pub to arrive opposite South Dock on Rope Street:
Turn right here and continue until Steel Yard Cut, the channel linking the two docks. Once over, turn right, then left, along Greenland Dock again. On reaching the compound, turn left, then right down Rope Street again. Go past the Watersports Centre, then turn right to reach the water again:
The slipway just past here marks the start of the Grand Surrey Canal. The Grand Surrey Canal was intended to link all the way to Portsmouth but only got as far as Peckham before the money ran out! Continue along the remainder of Greenland Dock, at the end turning right to pass under the bridge which carries Redriff Road:
Swing to the left of the end of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre and continue on past bus stands. When the road bends right, go down the ramp and cross Lower Road back to the Surrey Quays Station.
Brix-Mix - Brixton - 1/2 day walk:
Start & End: Brixton Tube Station. Last stop on the Victoria line ( still 2nd zone) in South West London, well conected with buses and Victoria line to the rest of London. See map in the end of this half-day blog.
Orientation: A short circular stroll in the centre of Brixton. Nothing special. Brixton has become very gentrified. The markets are not as gritty and tough as they used to be and but they are still fun. Go soon before the developers move in and ruin everything. During the day Brixton is quite safe except for the pickpocketing, There are cheap shops all around.
From the station go southward (left) along Brixton Rd. On your left is the Brixton Electric Avenue Market. If world food is your thing, Brixton market is the place to go. Be prepared to eat wherever there is space for you. It is a vibrant, multi-ethnic area with diverse communities and types of food:
Continue along Brixton Rd. (it changes its name to Brixton Hill Rd.). Cross Acre Ln and on your right you see the Lambeth Town Hall. Although Lambeth Council now has offices throughout the borough, the centre of Lambeth's local government is still in Brixton, where the Town Hall stands at the corner of Brixton Hill and Acre Lane. The Town Hall houses the Council Chamber and Committee rooms where the borough's elected representatives meet regularly to deal with local affairs:
On the first junction turn to the left to St. Matthew's and right to Effra Rd. Continue southward in Effra Rd. Here is the Baltic House in St. Matthew's/Effra Rd. Brixton is fluent with "posh" houses and cars...
In St.Matthew's Rd. you see the imposing front of St. Matthew's Brixton church. St Matthew's was one of four new Lambeth parish churches built in response to the growing population in the early 19th century. Consecrated in 1824, the church featured an imposing facade created by the architect C.F.Porden:
Continue in Effra Rd. and turn right in the second junction to Brixton Water Ln and, again, right to Brixton Hill Rd. Return to Windrush Square. Lambeth Town Hall will be on your left and St. Matthew's gardens on your right. Turn right to Coldharbour Ln. The Library and Ritzy Cinema are in the corner. By the library is the Sharpeville Monument. It was built to commemorate black people killed on 21 March 1960 when police opened fire on a peaceful protest in the South African township of Sharpeville. Cross the road to Coldharbour Lane. The Ritzy Cinema , opened in 1911 as the ‘Electric Pavilion Cinema’, is the second oldest cinema in London:
In front of the Ritzy is the London Plane Tree , Acer Platanus x acerifolia,
ideal for London streets as it is not harmed by pollution. Also here is the
Foundation Stone of the Old Brixton Theatre, bombed during World War II. You are now walking down Coldharbour Lane, once a winding country lane connecting Brixton to Camberwell. Turn left down Electric Lane to
Electric Avenue. This was one of the first London streets lit by
electricity. At the junction with Electric Lane, look down to Atlantic Road and the railway bridge and you will see the Hexagonal Clock. This clock has six faces so that all the train passengers can see the time:
From here you walk a few steps back to Brixton Station.
Fulham Palace and the Bishop's Park:
Start and End: Putney Bridge Tube Station.
Orientation: 2 hours pleasant walk in the Bishop's Park, Fulham Palace with nice views to the Thames and Putney Bridge. Makes a great day out.
From Putney Bridge Underground Station head north on Station Approach, turn left to stay on Station Approach and turn right onto Fulham High St. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Fulham Palace Rd. Turn left onto Bishop's Ave and you face the entrance to the Bishop's Park. Bishop's Park is located in the south of the Fulham borough adjacent to the river Thames. Restored in years 2011-2012. The park boasts an urban beach unique to London parks. It includes 4 gardens: Sculpture garden, Pryor's Bank garden, Rose garden, Spanish War Memorial garden. Its main attractions are: The Ornamental Lake, The Thames promenade overlooking the river (part of the Thames Path) (nice riverside setting !) .and the Moat Garden. A memorial to members of the International Brigade who volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War is located within the park's grounds. Usually full when the weather is nice, there are places on the grounds where you throw down your blanket to enjoy the calm and relaxing atmosphere of the "palace" grounds.
Fulham Palace/Museum is a hidden gem and I recommend a visit if you want to see more of West London for free. Admission to Fulham Palace and the gardens is free of charge. Opening hours of the Palace/Museum: Saturday to Wednesday from 13.00 - to 16.00. The Museum of Fulham Palace charts the long history of the Fulham Palace site, from Prehistoric times and Roman settlement, through Medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian bishops to the present day. The Fulham Palace is not, actually, a palace. That's in the church sense of the word - not royal. This building used to be the palace of the Bishop of London who is the 3rd in importance in the UK after the Bishops of Canterbury and York:
Opening hours of the Gardens: Botanical gardens – daily from dawn until dusk. Walled Garden – daily from 10.15 to 16.15 (summer)
10.15 to 15.45 (winter). The Palace grounds are not overly landscaped or manicured. Behind the house lies a walled garden that has been pretty stripped back as part of a regeneration project. The Tudor courtyard is lovely. The house itself includes more religious artifacts (minor local archeological finds). It is worth visiting if only for the walled courtyards/garden and the most pleasing small chapel.
One easy day in Maidstone:
Orientation: Don't expect a lot from Maidstone. No sensational attractions. No famous sites. Just a pleasant town to stroll (or pass) in a rainy day or for a lazy half/full day. The town visit can be combined with a half-day visit in Leeds Castle. I didn't plan to travel to Leeds Castle just because there is no convenient public transportation to/from this site and due to its pricey admission fees...
In this tip I'll provide you with several local points of interest with their accompanying pictures. All of them are in the compact town centre and there's no need for detailed walking instructions...
Archbishops' Palace courtyard - nowadays The Register Office:
The Carriage Museum: Open: Wed. - Sun 12.00 - 16.00. Admission: 1 GBP.
The Museum is located in the Archbishops' Stables, bulit in the 14th century as part of the Archbishops' Palace courtyard opposite the river. The Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages is home to a unique collection of horse-drawn vehicles. The collection is the legacy of Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake and viewed as the finest in Europe of its kind. You can spend enjoyable half an hour here.
Maidstone Post Office - 89 Bank Street:
Maidstone Museum & Bentliff Art Gallery:
Free admission. Plenty of exhibits: dinosaurs, a real mummy, the Japan room. Some stuff (local history, pottery, ecology) I found rather boring. Beaware: the museum is not well signposted !
Maidstone Museum - Barbara Villieri - Mistress of Charles II (c. 1660-1674):
Maidstone Museum - Lady Godiva, 1861, John Thomas:
Maidstone Museum - Cloissone Crane - China 1700-1730 - Julius Brenchley Collection:
Maidstone Museum - Print in Japan Gallery - Utagawa Hirashige 1797 - 1858:
Maidstone Museum - Print in Japan Gallery - Katsushika Hokusai - 1760-1849:
Maidstone Museum - Tailboard "Tourist Camera" - George Hare 1865:
I spent two hours strolling around Maidstone centre. Even if it was a rainy day I enjoyed this pleasant town which is kept really well.
Medway River runs in Maidstone centre:
Brenchley Gardens - on the way from Maidstone East railway station to the town centre:
St. Paul's Cathedral, Tate Modern and Bankside.
Start: St. Paul tube station.
End : London Bridge tube station.
Weather: If your first half day is grey and gloomy and the other half is brighter and more smiling - opt for this itinerary.
Distance: 3 km. Most of time is spent inside the sites themselves.
St Paul's Cathedral is the UK's major cathedral and setting for many state occasions including royal weddings. Being the cathedral of the capital city, St Paul's is officially the spiritual home of Great Britain. The dome is the masterpiece of the building, erected after the Fire of London. Designed by famous English architect Sir Christopher Wren, the current cathedral was completed in 1708, after the Great Fire of London ruined Old St Paul’s in 1666. During the construction of the dome and galleries, architect Wren was wrenched up and down in a basket at least once a week to inspect the work in progress. By the time work was completed in 1708, Wren was 78 years old and watched on as his son placed the last stone in position. The injunction on the memorial tablet over Wren’s grave in the crypt – ‘Si monumentum requiris, circumspice’ (if you are expecting this monument, look around you) – has inhibited more than it has encouraged.
The cathedral has always been associated with significant British events, including the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill, as were the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria and the 80th birthday service for Queen Elizabeth II.
OPENING TIMES: Mon to Sat 8.30 - 16.00 (last entry). Guided Tours at 11.00, 11.30, 13.30 & 14.00. PRICES: On the door: 15 GBP (Adult), 6 GBP (Child), 14 GBP (Concessions), 36 GBP (Family), FREE (Under 5s). Free admission for London Pass holders.
Note: Photography is not allowed inside the cathedral.
The cathedral miraculously survived the Blitz in World War II when most of the surrounding area was flattened by German bombing raids. It consequently served to act as an inspirational symbol of British strength in the nation's darkest hours.
With your entrance ticket, head inside and pick up your audio/video guide, available in nine languages. You’ll tour the cathedral on your own, listening to the audio commentary and using your touch screen for historical events and information about the significance of the cathedral throughout English history.
The Cathedral Floor:
You can take part, free, as a visitor in the Sunday service and be impressed by the ground floor and the Nave:
We go up the steps and enter the cathedral through the west portico. The first breathtaking view that visitors encounter when they enter the cathedral is from the Nave, which is the long central section of the cathedral that leads to the dome. This is the only place you can watch and take photos - without paying the pricey admission fees. This is the public and ceremonial space, designed for congregations at large services.
All Souls Chapel - North Aisle. To the left of the entrance is the All Souls Chapel, which is currently dedicated to Lord Kitchener and the military servicemen who died in World War I. Lord Kitchener was the Field Marshal who restructured the British Army during World War I:
St. Dunstan's Chapel - head up the main steps, and enter (like the former chapel) on the left-hand side. Inside you'll find the queue to buy tickets but keep to the left and you can enter St. Dunstan's Chapel for free at any time. This is open for prayers all day but is well-frequented by visitors too. As its name suggests is dedicated to St. Dunstan, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 959. The chapel has some appealing features including two mosaics: one an adaptation of a fresco by the famous Italian painter Raphael, and the other is a memorial to Archdeacon Hale, a 19th century English churchman who operated in London;
Heading down the nave you can see, on both sides, the unusual semi-circular recesses, which break up the aisles on both sides. It is said that they had been placed here with the intention to convert these recesses into lines of chapels for individual private worship and prayer. These recesses are, for the most part, now used to house the tombs and shrines of the past military heroes of Great Britain.
The North Quire Aisle contains the sculpture Mother and Child by Henry Moore (who is commemorated in the crypt):
In the north aisle, indeed, almost filling the north aisle in the Cathedral Floor, is the massive memorial to the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, the British commander who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815:
Another notable tomb on the cathedral ground floor is that of Major-General Charles George Gordon, a British army officer and administrator who died in combat in 1885. His tomb is often covered in flowers by those wishing to pay their respects to General Gordon:
South Quire Aisle is on the right hand side beyond the dome area. This aisle contains the effigies of two Bishops of London and also a marble effigy of John Donne. Donne was a Dean of the cathedral and one of Britain's finest poets, who died in 1631. It is one of the few effigies to have survived the Great Fire of London. He was an English poet and Dean of St. Paul’s from 1621 to 1631. Donne’s tomb here is by far the best preserved. It is one of the few tombs to survive the destruction of the old St. Paul’s in the Great Fire of London in 1666:
The Quire is at the east of the cathedral's cross-shape and the continuation of the nave beyond the dome area at the east of the cathedral. This is where the choir and the priests sit during services. The quire was the first part of the cathedral to be built. The choir stalls on both sides are worth a close look, they were carved by Grinling Gibbons, a master woodworker who was frequently called upon by Wren. And pause to watch the wrought-iron screen separating the altar from the aisles. They were created by Jean Tijou, who was also responsible for the magnificent gates at Hampton Court Palace.
The Grand Organ was installed in 1695 and has been rebuilt several times. It is the third largest organ in the U.K. It is one of the cathedral’s greatest artifacts:
At the far end of the Quire you can see the High Altar. Originally, the cathedral had a simple, large Victorian marble altar and screen, which were damaged by a bomb in World War II. The present high altar dates from 1958 and is made of marble and carved and gilded oak. It features a magnificent canopy based on a sketch by Wren:
The Apse at the east end of the cathedral, behind the High Altar. This chapel is called the Jesus Chapel but also known as the American Memorial Chapel. It honors American servicemen and women who died in World War II, and was dedicated in 1958. Almost 30,000 Americans gave their lives while on their way to, or stationed in, the UK during World War II. It is kept in front of the chapel's altar:
All of their names are recorded in a roll of honor that is on display in a glass-encased book next to the chapel’s altar, where a page is turned everyday so different names are displayed:
A flight of steps leads down into the cathedral’s crypt, with its memorials, tombs and monuments of important Brits like Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. It occupies the whole area under the cathedral and contains the tombs of many notable figures, including the painters Constable, Turner and Reynolds and the scientist Alexander Fleming. Under the south aisle lies the simple tombstone of Sir Christopher Wren. The sarcophagi of Wellington and Nelson may also be seen. Nelson's coffin was made from the main mast of the French flagship "L'Orient".The Nelson monument has allegorical reliefs representing the North Sea, the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Nile.
AS we said this crypt is now used to hold the tombs and memorials to prominent figures from British history. Here, is the tomb of the cathedral’s architect, Sir Christopher Wren. He was buried here after he died in 1723 at the age of ninety-one.
Nearby is the tomb of the famous landscape painter, J. M. W. Turner:
Nelson's Tomb. Lord Nelson was famously killed in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and buried in St Paul's after a state funeral. He was laid in a coffin made from the timber of a French ship he defeated in battle.
The black marble sarcophagus that adorns his tomb was originally made for Cardinal Wolsey, Lord Chancellor during the reign of Henry VIII.
One of the famous military heroes buried in the crypt of St. Paul’s is Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington:
On the Crypt wall there is a bust memorializing Lawrence of Arabia, a British officer who raised and led an Arab rebel force against the Ottoman Empire across the Middle East. He played very important role in the liberation of the Middle East from the Turks:
The Crypt also contains a large scale model of Wren's second proposed design of St. Paul's, called the Great Model. A more recent addition to the Crypt is the Chapel of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), which was dedicated in 1960.
The Great Model is so called after the enormous wooden model Wren had made, and which still survives. It does not represent Wren's first thoughts, nor does it reflect the Cathedral as built; but it does appear to show what Wren would have liked to build, if he had not been subject to the opinions and wishes of the Dean and Chapter. The quality of the joinery is superb, and it is adorned with exquisitely-worked cherubs' heads, flowers and festoons. As originally completed, some of the detail was sumptuously gilded, and there were tiny statues on the parapets, which are thought to have been Wren's first commissions to Grinling Gibbons:
The Crypt from the Cafe':
The climb to the galleries: The stairs are pretty narrow (and majority of them are spiral). There is a warning sign for those with claustrophobia. In order of climb, the three main galleries are the Whispering, Stone, and Golden galleries:
No visit to St Paul's Cathedral would be complete without the climb to the galleries and dome. There are 259 steps leading up to the Whispering Gallery, which runs round the dome at a height of 33m above the ground. It is so called because of its remarkable acoustic properties, which make it possible to hear even a whisper across the dome's total width of 35m. From here visitors can see Thornhill's paintings in the dome and gain a breathtaking impression of the size and proportions of the nave below. The Whispering Gallery is a circular walkway halfway up the inside of the dome. The Whispering Gallery gives you a magnificent view of the cathedral:
From the Whispering Gallery a further 117 steps lead up to the Stone Gallery round the outside of the dome:
The views from the Stone Gallery, which runs around the lower edge of the dome, are of course spectacular. This one is looking across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate:
View from the stone/outer gallery across the Thames to the Tate Modern:
Southwark Bridge from the Stone Gallery:
Paternoster Square, from the Stone Gallery:
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre from the Stone / Outer Gallery:
For the fit or ambitious, you can climb 530 steps to the Golden Gallery, an observation platform atop the dome of the cathedral. It is the smallest of the galleries and runs around the highest point of the outer dome. From there you can look out over the modern skyline of the city of London and panoramic views of the capital. It is 166 steps above the Stone Gallery. From both of these galleries there are superb views of London. The ball on the top of the lantern will hold ten people.
The Shard from the Golden gallery:
The Millennium Bridge from the Golden gallery:
The three curving galleries lead up to the Dome - at 111.3 m. high, it is one of the largest in the world and one of the best viewing points in the City. St Paul's is built in the shape of a cross, with a large dome crowning the intersection of its arms:
Looking up to the famous dome of St. Paul’s you can see the paintings by the English painter, James Thornhill, depicting the climax moments of St. Paul’s life.
On the cathedral’s floor directly below the center of the dome is a Latin inscription on a circle of black marble, which reads: “SUBTUS CONDITUR HUIUS ECCLESIÆ ET VRBIS CONDITOR CHRISTOPHORUS WREN, QUI VIXIT ANNOS ULTRA NONAGINTA, NON SIBI SED BONO PUBLICO. LECTOR SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE OBIIT XXV FEB AETATIS XCI AN MDCCXXIII.” It translates in English as, “Here in its foundations lies the architect of this church and city, Christopher Wren, who lived beyond ninety years, not for his own profit but for the public good. Reader, if you seek his monument - look around you. Died 25 Feb. 1723, age 91.” (see above on Wren's tomb in the Crypt):
Surrounding the imposing dome of St. Paul’s are arches with mosaics from the end of 19th century:
Gardens surrounding St Paul's Cathedral. Opening hours: everyday from 6.00 to 20.00 in the summer and 6.00 to 16.00 in the winter, unless a special event or service is taking place, in which case the garden may be closed.
The churchyard of St Paul’s is a restful albeit public thoroughfare. There are benches where you can sit and enjoy the sun, watch the squirrels and/or people, and study the beautiful carvings and sculptures that decorate the exterior. Take photo of the imposing cathedral from a bench in the surrounding gardens, which have a pretty rose garden and a range of interesting plants and trees (including plane and walnut).
Look out for the granite memorial inscribed with “Remember before God the people of London 1939-1945”. The quote was used by Churchill but actually written by Sir Edward Marsh in relation to WWI. Memorial to the people of London who died in the blitz 1939 — 1945. This commemorates the 30,000 Londoners who died in air raids. Cut from a single block of limestone:
A statue of John Wesley stands in the northwest corner of the churchyard. Erected in 1988, it is a bronze cast of Manning’s early 19th century marble statue to be found at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster:
Nearby, in the cathedral’s north-east churchyard, a plaque marks the location of St Paul’s Cross:
Looking around outside, behind the Cathedral in St. Paul’s Churchyard, you will notice a statue with a gilded representation of St. Paul at the top:
The gardens were formed in 1878 when the ancient burial grounds of St Paul's, St Gregory by St Paul’s and St Faith the Virgin under St Paul’s were combined.
St. Paul Cathedral from the Festival Gardens (S.E to the cathedral). The statue is of Poet John Donne:
The Cathedral was completed during the reign of Queen Anne and there is a statue of her in the west- front of St. Paul's:
West facade of St. Paul:
St. Paul from the North-West (Paternoster Square):
From the South-West:
South Front of St. Paul:
From the South-West (near the Information Office):
St. Paul from the South-East:
The new Paternoster development master-planned by Sir William Whitfield, who also designed the deferentially stone-clad Juxon House at the south-west corner, was completed in 2004 by the arrival of the resurrected Temple Bar. The Temple Bar, which now guards the passage between St Paul's and Paternoster Square. Temple Bar, a Wren designed stone archway that once stood on Fleet Street to mark the westernmost extent of the City's influence, was rebuilt at the cathedral side entrance to the square in 2004:
Do not miss this modern sculpture east of Paternoster Square, near the St. Paul:
Paternoster Square (north-west to St. Paul) was flattened during the Blitz, now redeveloped and home to the London Stock Exchange and big names in banking
The main monument in the redeveloped square is the 23m. tall Paternoster Square Column - a Corinthian column of Portland stone topped by a gold leaf covered flaming copper urn, which is illuminated by fibre-optic lighting at night. The column was designed by the architects Whitfield Partners and also serves as a ventilation shaft for a service road that runs beneath the square. It is sometimes referred to as the 'pineapple':
The uncharacteristically bland sculpture by Elizabeth Frink, Paternoster – Shepherd and Sheep (1975), serves to confirm the difficulty of measuring up to Wren’s great building.
Originally St Paul’s was pressed around by housing and the shops of the book and print trade, above which rose much of the upper screen walls, cornice line, towers, drum and dome. This was a building whose rich detailing could be appreciated close-to, but the whole could be seen only from a distance. The surrounding buildings, devastated during the Blitz of the Second World War, were replaced by the more open, traffic-free Paternoster precinct of 1962–7, following the masterplan by Lord Holford. This was largely demolished (one small block survives above St Paul’s Underground Station) and replaced after protracted discussion, the inhibiting intervention of Prince Charles, and the forging of an unholy alliance between market forces, architectural political correctness and sentiment: this is a no-win site.
We leave the St. Paul's Cathedral - heading to the South Bank. This is the Firefighters Memorial, presumably sited just outside St Paul's because of the events of the night of 29 December 1940:
We'll cross the Thames over the Millennium Bridge. On leaving St Paul's make your way to the south side of the cathedral, Cannon Street. There is a Tourist Office here (wealth of data) and close by a wide pedestrian thoroughfare descending down to the River Thames. Head southeast on St. Paul's Churchyard and turn right onto Godliman St. Turn left onto Queen Victoria St. Turn right onto Peter's Hill and continue onto Millennium Bridge.
Along Peter's Hill:
The southern end of the bridge is near the Globe theatre, the Bankside Gallery and Tate Modern.
The north end next to the City of London School below St Paul's Cathedral. The bridge alignment is such that a clear view of St Paul's south façade is presented from across the river, framed by the bridge supports. The Millennium Bridge, officially known as the London Millennium Footbridge, is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames in London, linking Bankside with the City of London. It is sited between Southwark Bridge (more to the east) and Blackfriars Railway Bridge (more to the west). Construction of the bridge began in 1998, with the opening in June 2000. It is a 325m steel bridge linking the City of London at St. Paul's Cathedral with the Tate Modern Gallery at Bankside. The bridge is a pedestrian only suspension bridge built for the year 2000 celebrations. It became famous due to the fact that the walkway swayed so much it was deemed unsafe and shut down. The bridge had reopened and offers a rigid platform to cross the River Thames without the noise of traffic. The view is always magnificent from both sides and photogenic. Walking the opposite direction, in night time, from the South Bank to the City of London is a marvelous experience with all the lights up and down the river, and with the lighted cupola of St. Paul's in front of you. St. Paul at dark:
The Millennium Bridge at sunset:
The view of St Paul's Cathedral; from Millennium Bridge:
View of St. Paul's Cathedral from across Millennium Bridge to the south:
View of the North Bank - from the Millennium Bridge:
View of St. Paul from the Tate Modern grounds:
On the other side of the bridge is the Tate Modern Art Gallery situated on Bankside. Tate Modern displays the Tate collection of international modern and contemporary art from 1900 to the present day.
Opening times: 10.00–18.00, Sunday – Thursday, Last admission and ticket sales to special exhibitions is at 17.15. 10.00–22.00, Friday – Saturday, Last admission and ticket sales to special exhibitions is at 21.15.
Seven main points on the Tate Modern:
1. Its historic. Built after World War II as Bankside Power Station, it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, architect of Battersea Power Station. The power station shut in 1981; nearly 20 years later, it opened as an art museum, and has enjoyed spectacular popularity ever since. Opened May 2000. The gallery attracts five million visitors a year to a building intended for half that number. There are some historic pieces in the building. Monet's Waterlilies and a couple of Picasso's adorn the walls. Not a lot of places in the world where one can see something of that magnitude.
2. Its unique and different - nothing similar to this project - either in London or around the globe. Well, the truth is that there are more and more places in the world imitating Tate Modern's idea. Everytime you visit the Tate - you'll find something different. The Tate Modern is quintessentially a London/UK experience. Tate Modern is more than just an art gallery. The amazing space of the Turbine Hall - has housed a succession of installations which have caught the imagination of the public. Thanks to its industrial architecture, this powerhouse of modern art is awe-inspiring even before you enter. In the main galleries themselves, the original cavernous turbine hall is still used to jaw-dropping effect as the home of large-scale, temporary installations.
3. It is popular and professional. The gallery attracts five million visitors a year to a building intended for half that number. Beyond, the permanent collection draws from the Tate’s collections of modern art (international works from 1900) and features heavy hitters such as Matisse, Rothko and Beuys – a genuinely world-class collection, expertly curated.
4. It is free. The best thing about the Tate Modern is that it is free to get in. That means you can pop in a quick browse and not be worried about getting value for money on an entrance fee. Hard to complain about anything when there is no investment asked of you. There is a voluntary donation bin at the entrance where they ask for a modest £4 donation.
5. Its location. It is convenient. In the middle of everything. One doesn't have to go out of the way to visit the Tate Modern as its essentially convenient to and within any path to any other tourist site in London. It sits on the South Bank of the Thames adjacent to the Globe Theater and directly across the Millennium bridge from St. Paul's Cathedral.
6. Its future. It is ambitious. the Tanks, so-called because they occupy vast, subterranean former oil tanks, will stage performance and film art. As for the rest of the extension, a huge new origami structure, designed by the Swiss-Jewish Architects Herzog & Meuron (who were behind the original conversion), will gradually unfold above the Tanks until perhaps 2016
7. It is breath-taking. If nothing else, its a nice place to catch your breath and take a break from the weather. And here' we start. The 6th floor balcony also offers a very nice view of the London skyline. The first thing we suggest you to do is climb to the restaurant, prepare your camera and take astonishing pictures of London from the balcony or through the cafe' windows.
There are also stunning views down inside the building:
The galleries group artworks according to movement (Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war abstraction) rather than by theme.
Pablo Picasso, Nude Woman in a Red Armchair (1932):
Bust of a Woman, Pablo Picasso (1944):
“The Three Dancers”, Pablo Picasso (1925):
“Weeping Woman”, Pablo Picasso (1937):
Pablo Picasso, Nude Woman with Necklace (1968):
Pablo Picasso, Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle (1914):
Portrait of Henry Matisse (1908):
There is plenty to see with some amazing work dotted about the place although I find some of the modern art a bit hit and miss:
John Latham 1960:
Michaellangelo Pistoletto - Venus of the Rugs 1974:
Victor Pasmore - "Stromboli" - 1986:
Exhibition in 2010: Bolshevist and Communist Revolutionary Posters:
The Exquisite Forest. Pop-Art Video:
The café on the riverside and espresso bar on level 3 serve refreshments and light meals from breakfast to evening:
View to the north bank from the Cafe' in the 3rd floor:
We continue EASTward along Bankside (for 2 minutes) toward the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Open: Monday - Sunday. Exhibition: 9.00 – 17.30, Tours: Monday, 9.30 – 17.00, Tuesday – Saturday, 9.30 – 12.30, Sunday, 9.30 – 11.30. Tours depart every 30 minutes. Tour - Adult: 13.50 GBP.
Built on the bank of the Thames , the Globe is an impressive reconstruction of an Elizabethan theatre where many of Shakespear's plays were first performed. The wooden circular structure is open in the middle - but those who bought seats tickets have roof over their heads.
Standing means watching a performance from the yard - and therefore with one of the best views of the stage - you are not sitting. Please do not bring any items to sit on - no shooting sticks, or any sort of stool is allowed. Many plays last for up to three hours, if you are uncomfortable standing for this length of time it is possible to purchase a sitting ticket from £15.
Performances operate only in the summer. These performances are once-in-life experience with the best actors in London. There is a guided tour including the nearby Rose theatre foundations. Open all year around and beneath the Globe Theatre is the Globe Exhibition which brings Shakespeare personality, plays and times to life.
Shakespeare's company erected the storied Globe Theatre circa 1599 in London's Bankside district. It was one of four major theatres in the area, along with the Swan, the Rose, and the Hope. The foundations of the Globe were rediscovered in 1989, igniting interest in a fitful attempt to erect a modern version of the amphitheater. Workers began construction in 1993 on the new theatre near the site of the original. The latest Globe Theatre was completed in 1996. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the theatre on June 12, 1997 with a production of Henry V. The Globe is as faithful a reproduction as possible to the Elizabethan model, seating 1,500 people between the galleries and the "groundlings". The stage and the wooden hemispherical seating arrangement is breathtaking and has acoustic effects that even small objects falling have magnified sound made.
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse: The Shakespeare's Globe opened a second theatre - it has named its new 340 seat Indoor Jacobean Theatre The Sam Wanamaker Theatre, named after the organisation's founder, American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. Performances open to the public from January 2014, and allow Shakespeare's Globe to present plays throughout the year. The theatre has two tiers of galleried seating and a pit seating area and is predominantly lit by candles.
Get tickets early as they sell very quickly.
It is wise to hire a cushion or blanket as the seats are made of wood - or remember to bring your own.
Cheaper tickets are available in the 'pit' which is standing only.
The standing rule seems to be enforced by the staff and it is not easy. Be aware, especially on hot / wet days.
Some actors are spitting while playing...
On the other hand - If you're standing, get there early so you can be near the front and rest your arms on the stage.
You can move into some vacant seats for the second act.
There's not many bad views to be had, but if you're in it for cheap then 5 GBP gets you a standing ticket in the yard, letting you experience like contemporary crowds would have in Shakespeare's time.
The north bank from the Globe Theatre:
Continuing 2 minutes further to the east, along Bankside - you arrive to the Southwark Bridge. Southwark Bridge seen from the south bank of the Thames. Tower 42 and 30 St Mary Axe (Gherkin) can be seen above the bridge:
It is 10-12 minutes walk, along the Thames, eastward to the London Bridge Street and another 2-3 minutes southward, along London Bridge to the London Bridge Underground station.
City of London - Modern and Historical Architecture:
I recommend you to do what no guidebook, no other web site or normal person was daring to offer you: start at the Bank Square (see below: never in cold or windy days) and explore, in-depth, 3-4 streets, from the 9 streets that converge on the Bank junction area: Prince, Threadneedle, Cornhill, Lombard, Mansion House, King William, Walbrook, Queen Victoria and Poultry. From this selection - do not miss: Threadneedle (!), Cornhill, Lombard (!), Mansion House and Walbrook. I highly recommend to end with the Threadneedle / Cornhill / Lombard streets - continuing this itinerary to Bishophsgate and many other architectural masterpieces in the City of London. If you don't stick with our itinerary - end with King William Street and head to the Monument or the Thames. I suspect that our offer will consume half of your day.
Start: Bank tube / DLR stations.
End : Tower tube / National Rail / DLR stations.
Weather: Only in acceptable weather. Avoid this route in rainy, windy or cold days. The Bank environs and the southern parts of the City of London are very cold when the temperatures are low. We end our route in the St. Katherine Docks (a pure contrast to the urban City) - and, there, you must face a smiling sun.
Duration: one busy day.
Orientation: half-a-day for exploring the Bank and its adjoining streets, continuing northward into the heart of the City, exploring many famous, architectural monuments/buildings and heading southward to the Thames two banks. Prepare your camera - you'll shoot tens or, even, hundreds of photos.
Note or warning: The Bank underground station is such a maze. The worst designed station on the network with very poor crowd flows and very long walks to change lines. This is probably one of the most confusing stations as it has like 9 different exits. You have to walk long distances to find your line. Additionally, it's sort of a conjoined twin with the Monument station. Even though Monument is several streets away the connection is just a little stretched. Avoid interchanging at this station at all costs. A change from the Central line to the District line (which is really at Monument) actually involves a hike which has many a tourist wondering if they'll ever get out. Moreover, It's not even a flat route. There are stairs/escalators that go up and down several times. Get out from the underground station ASAP.
The junction itself is also a maze - but this trip blog (the only one that) will make order in what you'll see outside.
Another warning: Avoid coming to the Bank in a windy day. Very unpleasant to walk or stay in the Bank square when the wind blows. It is quite cold in the Bank square and the adjacent streets. Leave this itinerary to warmer days.
Tip: The best time to go through the Bank is at the weekend. Take the time to walk around what now becomes an almost ghost town, while the markets sleep for the weekend. The buildings old and new are fascinating.The City itself is another story. Explore it only during weekdays.
Bank Station numbered Exits:
These are numbered clockwise around the Bank Concourse.
1. Poultry, Cheapside and Guild Hall, 2. Princes Street, Threadneedle Street and Bank of England, 3. Royal Exchange, Stock Exchange and toilets, 4. Cornhill, Leadenhall Market and Lloyds, 5.King William Street and Lombard Street, 6. King William Street, Lombard Street, Fenchurch Street, The Monument and London Bridge 7. Mansion House, 8. Cheapside, Queen Victoria Street, 9. Walbrook.
The City is the oldest part of London and was already 1,000 years old when the Tower of London was built. It is uniquely independent from both Westminster and the Crown, has its own local government, the Corporation of London, and today is mainly a financial centre. It also has its own police force which is independent of the Metropolitan police, whose jurisdiction nevertheless surrounds the City.
Bank junction is also the location of one of London's busiest tube stations, Bank. Bank and Monument are interlinked London Underground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) stations that form a joint, public transport complex (under the length of King William Street). The stations have been linked as an interchange since 1933. Bank station, opened in 1900 at Bank junction, named after the Bank of England, opened in 1900. Monument station, named after the Monument to the Great Fire of London, opened in 1884.
The Bank junction from the 2nd floor of the Royal Exchange:
Bank junction is a major road junction in the City of London. Today, it is, mainly, the historic and financial centre of London. Traffic is controlled by traffic lights and give-way lines. The majority of people passing through the junction are doing so on foot.
Eight or nine streets converge on the Bank junction area. (clockwise from the North):
Prince's Street (northwest, towards Moorgate), (the picture below: NatWest building, 1 Prince Street, built at 1932):
Threadneedle Street (northeast, towards Bishopsgate),
On the left side of Threadneedle Street is the Bank of England. Founded in 1694, the first purpose-built building on Threadneedle Street, completed in 1734 to the design of George Sampson, was first extended by Sir Robert Taylor and then rebuilt by Sir John Soane behind massive screen walls in his masterpiece of 1788–1827. Soane’s work was swept away in Sir Herbert Baker’s bombastic rebuilding of 1921–39, in which he raised seven storeys of offices behind Soane’s perimeter walls. At the north-west corner of this large site, Soane’s elegantly arranged Tivoli Corner columns survived Baker’s onslaught. There is public access on the east side from Bartholomew Lane to the Bank of England Museum (free admission), where Higgins Gardner in 1986–8 reconstructed Soane’s top-lit Bank Stock Office of 1792–3:
On the right side of Threadneedle Street is the Royal Exchange. Sited at the physical and functional heart of the City with the Bank of England across Threadneedle street and the Mansion House opposite. This is the greatest of the City’s nineteenth- century exchanges, built to the designs of Sir William Tite (1841–4). This is the third exchange on the site, following previous halls of 1566–70 and 1667–71. Originally open, the arcaded central courtyard was roofed in 1883. General trading stopped in 1939, replaced by specialist exchanges elsewhere. It was converted by Fitzroy Robinson in the 1990s into an upmarket shopping centre with some interiors preserved together with an important group of paintings of 1895–1922 around the walls of the ground-floor courtyard. These are largely obscured by the shops. We recommend entering the building and climbing to the 2nd floor (see later) The intrusive security tends to inhibit investigation. The sculpture (1842–4) in the west front is by Richard Westmacott Junior: Commerce holding the Exchange Charter. In front, Aston Webb’s Great War (WW1 - not WW2 !) memorial was unveiled in 1920. About the statue of the Duke of Wellington - see later when we browase, again, quickly the main buildings around the Bank junction.
Tower 42 and on its left the NEW Stock Exchange:
Threadneedle Street, back side of the Royal Excange:
Cornhill Street (east, towards Leadenhall Street),
The St. Michael church, with the exception of the tower, was completely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The present Church was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren between 1669 and 1672. Interior of St.Michael:
Do not miss the Gilbert wooden carved doors at 32 Cornhill (Cornhill Insurance):
The Jamaica Wine House, St Michaels Alley, Cornhill. Excellent interior, good service and the beer is well looked after. One of London’s oldest pubs, the Jamaica Wine House - known locally as The Jampot - has a fiery history. Literally. Indeed, the coffee house that originally stood here was damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the current building is a 19th century public house. On the wall of the current building of the Jamaica Wine House visitors can read the memorial plaque attesting that “Here stood the first London Coffee house at the sign of the Pasqual Rosee’s Head 1652.”:
Lombard Street (southeast, towards Gracechurch Street, leading to King William Street),
View of Lombard Street from the Bank. On the left - St. Mary Woolnoth Church:
St. Mary Woolnoth is an Anglican church in the City of London, located on the corner of Lombard Street and King William Street. The present building was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, built 1716–27:
Lombard Street from the glass doors of St. Mary Woolnoth Church. Open: Mon - Fri: 09.30-16.30 (but, quite frequently, it is closed without explicit note):
Trade coronation in the front of a building from the period of Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria, 1902, in Lombard Street - which was the financial centre of London before opening of the Royal Exchange in the Bank junction:
This sign of the grasshopper appears at 68 Lombard St and marks the site where Sir Thomas Gresham (c1519 -1579) lived. He was an English merchant and financier who was a trusted agent of Queen Elizabeth I and founder of the Royal Exchange. Gresham's original building was destroyed in the Fire of London:
Walk until the end of Lombard Street. You won't regret it. View southward from the end of Lombard Street (junction with Gracechurch Street) to the Monument and the Shard:
Mansion House Street (south, runs to the east of Mansion House. Mansion House Street is the short street at the front of Mansion House (which connects Poultry, Queen Victoria Street and the Bank junction). The Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, built in the 18thC in Palladian style. Superb reception rooms and banqueting hall. Large gold and silver vaults. Note: don't mix it with the Mansion House tube station which further to the west (on Queen Victoria Street).
In-house guides only permitted to conduct tours around the house. Only groups admitted, no individuals. Guided tours information: when: every Tuesday at 14.00 (Lord Mayor's Diary permitting). How long: one hour. Meeting point: the A-board near the porch entrance to Mansion House (this is in Walbrook, exit 8 from Bank tube station). Cost: 7 GBP adults, 5 GBP concessions. You pay the guide in cash. How to book: arrive at the meeting point by 13.45 for a 14.00 start. Visitors are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. Tours cannot be booked in advance. The maximum number for the tour is 40 persons. It is well worth the time if one can fit it in your schedule. Remember that this building is only open for an excellent hour tour on Tuesdays. One can view five or six beautiful rooms used for government functions and enjoy many fine paintings (see "Art Collections" below).
The first floor had a roofless courtyard (later covered to form the Salon, the entertainment space) and the great Egyptian Hall. The second floor has a ballroom and private apartments of the Lord Mayor and family. The third and fourth floors contain meeting rooms and staff rooms. The cellars have storage space and once held prisoners' cells, reflecting the former use of the Mansion House as the Lord Mayor's Court.
Mansion House Art Collections: The guided tour of Mansion House, basically means a tour of the extensive 17th Century Flemish Art collection.
The Lute Player, Frans Hals, 1624-1628:
A Young Woman Sewing, Nicholaes Maes, 1655:
King William Street is a road in the City of London, the historic nucleus and modern financial centre of London. It runs from its northern end at a junction with Lombard Street by the church of St Mary Woolnoth, southeast to Monument junction, where it meets Gracechurch Street and Cannon Street.
North end of King William Street looking towards Monument station:
Rothschild Bank, 1 King William Street:
Offices Building, 33 King William Street:
Walbrook (south, towards Cannon Street), a narrow street just behind Mansion House.
St Stephen, Walbrook is a church erected to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren following the destruction of its medieval predecessor in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Opening Times: on weekdays only, from 10.00 until 16.00. It is usually closed at weekends. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672. The first domed church in Britain. The plain exterior of the church hides a Classical interior. Surprisingly, a beautiful church interior. The white arc of the dome spins the viewer round:
Don't miss the Walbrook Building (seen also from Cannon Street):
Queen Victoria Street (southwest, towards Blackfriars), starts at the Mansion House Street at Bank junction and ends at the New Bridge Street and Victoria Embankment.
City Magistrate’s Court, No 1 Queen Victoria Street: A building designed by John Whichcord, built 1873–5 as the National Safe Deposit and including four storeys of armoured safe deposit vaults underneath, partly converted to cells for the new courtrooms (1988–91).
Poultry (west, towards Cheapside). Poultry is a short street, an eastern continuation of Cheapside, between Old Jewry and Mansion House Street, towards Bank junction.
No.1 Poultry: This wedge-shaped plot with fronts onto Poultry and Queen Victoria Street was the site of a major planning dispute – the highpoint of opposition to wholesale redevelopment. A group of High Victorian buildings were demolished to make way for a development instigated by Lord Palumbo, who wished to create a new square – Mansion House Square – with an eighteen-storey tower by the Architect Mies van der Rohe (designed 1962–8 but delayed by lease acquisitions). This scheme was rejected in 1985, and the strongly articulated, stridently postmodern, colourful, wedge-shaped building, with playfully arch detailing, by James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates, was erected 1986–98. There are good views of the City from the rooftop garden:
The main Buildings around the Bank Square:
The Royal Exchange - across the road from Bank tube station:
Also in front of the Royal Exchange is a memorial to those Londoners who served and died in World War I:
I recommend that you'll enter the Royal Exchange building and pave your way to the aristocratic cafe' in the 2nd Floor. Marvelous view over the Bank junction:
From the ground floor of the Royal Exchange, through the building pillars - you can also a nice view of the square:
Outside the main entrance to the Royal Exchange is a statue of the first Duke of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley), on horseback and overlooking Bank junction. The statue was inaugurated in year 1844:
Standing on the northeast corner of Bank junction is the Bank of England, headquartered on Threadneedle Street since 1734:
(photo from 2010):
Behind the Bank of England is Tower 42 (the high, light blue, glass building). Behind the Royal Exchange is "the Gherkin" top edge:
Former Threadneedle Street head office of The American City Bank, which became London, City & Midland Bank:
On the south side of the junction is Mansion House. Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It is a combination of palace, town hall and law court complete with its own lock-up. Its prime role is as the official residence of the City's Lord Mayor, who holds office for a one year term. The building was designed in the 1700's. It is used for some of the City of London's official functions, including an annual dinner, hosted by the Lord Mayor. The Guildhall (covered under another couple of trips around the City of London) is another venue used for important City functions.
Regus House, Poultry Rd #1:
After exploring the Bank Square and 4-5 adjecent streets - we return to the Bank square and head north-east along the Threadneedle street until its end.We are going to explore several famous architectural highlights in the City. A few (minor) sections of this route overlap sections of "A rainy day in the City and the Docklands" trip.
From there we slightly turn left to the Bishopsgate. We continue until No. 22-24 - where The Pinnacle tower is still in construction. The Pinnacle will be on your right and Tower 42 on your left. The Pinnacle is a skyscraper that was expected to become the tallest building in the City of London and the second-tallest in both the United Kingdom and the European Union, after The Shard (also in London). Its construction began in 2008 but is currently on hold subject to re-approval issues. Work started in September 2008 but has stalled since March 2012. It is planned to get height of 290 m.
From the north-west corner of The Pinnacle you can see an impressive view of the Gherkin. The Gherkin was designed by Norman Foster and built during the years 2001–2003. The building is one of the city's most widely recognized examples of contemporary architecture. Its formal address is: 30 St Mary Axe and was previously known as the Swiss Re Building. The Gherkin was completed in 2003 and opened in 2004. The Gherkin height is 180 m. It stands on the former site of the Baltic Exchange, which was extensively damaged in 1992 by the explosion of a bomb placed by the IRA:
Tower 42 is, presently, the second-tallest skyscraper in the City of London and the seventh tallest in Greater London. Its former name was the National Westminster (NatWest) Tower, having been built to house the National Westminster Bank's international division. Its formal address is 25 Old Broad Street - but its full grandeur can be clearly seen from Bishopsgate (near the junction with Undershaft). The Tower 42 was formally opened on 1981 by Queen Elizabeth II. Its height is 185 m. It was surpassed by two towers in Canary Wharf: One Canada and Heron Tower. In 2011 it was bought by a South African businessman. You'll admire its size and height from further places along our route.
Continue walking along Bishopsgate northward and cross the Camomile Street (on your right) and Wormwood Street (on your left).After 2-3 minutes walk you'll see, on your left, at Bishopsgate 121 the Saint Botolph-without-Bishopsgate Church and Gardens. St Botolph was the patron saint of the travelers. The building is Classical in style, of red brick with stone detailing;
Adjoining the church is a charming pub, The White Hart (actually, on the cross-roads with Liverpool Street:
Return southward along Bishopsgate and turn left onto Camomile Street and right onto St Mary Axe in order to approach and appreciate again, the Gherkin tower:
Walk along St Mary Axe, southward (The Gherkin on your left) until its end, until it meets the Leadenhall and Lime streets. This junction is marvelous, breath-taking and, here, you get one of the most iconic sights of London - the Lloyds TSB complex, The Gherkin, 52-54 Lime Street Building, Willis Building and 122 Leadehall Building - all around you (feeling like a grasshopper...). Several facts on the Lloyds TSB building. The building takes its name from one Edward Lloyd who founded a coffee shop on this site in 1688, from where maritime insurance was conducted. The building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on November 18th 1986. Address: 1 Lime St, London. Construction started: 1978. Opened: 1986. Floors: 14. Architects: Richard Rogers, Mike Davies. Architecturally, the Lloyd's Building draws heavily on architect Richard Rogers' earlier Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris. The Lloyds TSB was the first in a trio of City office buildings designed by Richard Rogers; it was followed by 88 Wood Street in 1998, and the Lloyd's Register of Shipping Building in 2000 (The Strand). Architectural style: High-tech architecture. The building's extravagant design led to numerous awards. The Lloyd's Building is one of the finest examples of British High-Tech architecture and has been described as a 'mechanical cathedral':
At the heart of the building is a huge atrium, 14 floors and 76 meters tall. On the ground floor of the atrium sits the Lutine Bell, salvaged from the French frigate La Lutine which surrendered to the British in 1793. The bell is rung once for good news and twice for bad, and the expansive atrium carries the sound to everyone in the building.
On 122 Leadenhall Street stands the 225 m tall Leadenhall Building which is currently under construction and very close to its completion. It is designed (again) by Richard Rogers. The Leadenhall Building is adjacent to the Lloyd's building, also designed by Rogers. Let the sights, of this grandiose junction, talk for themselves:
52-54 Lime Street is a skyscraper on the corner of Lime Street and Leadenhall Street, opposite the Lloyd's building and adjacent to the Willis Building. Upon completion in 2017 the building will be 190 m. tall, with 38 storeys. It is designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. The skyscraper is being built for the Berkley insurance company.
The Willis Building is in 51 Lime Street. It stands opposite the Lloyd's building and is 125 m. tall, with 26 storeys. The Willis Building was designed by architect Norman Foster. The skyscraper features a "stepped" design.Construction started 2004. Completed - 2008.
It is recommended to walk the Lime Street and soak its special, contemporary atmosphere (see "A rainy day in the City and the Docklands" trip). From Lime Street head BACK north (on Lime St) toward Leadenhall St. Turn left onto Leadenhall St. Turn left onto Gracechurch and Leadenhall Market will be on the left. Again, Leadenhall Market is covered in the "A rainy day in the City and the Docklands" trip. Leadenhall Market is one of London’s hidden gems. It is a beautiful covered Victorian market with elegant Victorian roof, colorful (a lot of red) stalls selling flowers and fresh food and covered cobbled streets. There are also shops, pubs and restaurants in this arcaded territory (open only during weekdays !). If you like photography, its a charming place to visit. Surrounded by modern high-rises, this indoor market looks more like a Dickensian film set.
Head southwest on Gracechurch St towards St. Peter's Alley. Turn left onto Eastcheap. Turn right onto Fish Street Hill and turn right onto Monument St. The Monument to the Great Fire of 1666 will be on the right. Opening Hours (Summer/Winter): 09:30 - 18.00/17.30 daily. Admission: Adults £3, Concessions £2. It stands on the point of where The Great Fire of London is believed to have started. Great for a rather different perspective of the city and for photos of St. Paul Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Shard if you have a good zoom camera. Only 310 steps of spiral staircase that lead the way to the top. It gets increasingly narrow towards the top so be careful ! The cheapest bird-eye view - you can purchase in London:
The 20 Fenchurch skycraper (10 minutes walk from Gracechurch Street - to the east, turn left) from the Monument:
Continue southward to the Thames - arriving to the Grant's Quay Wharf and London Bridge. Grants Quay has been recently improved (2009) with new trees, a lawn area, topiary hedges, granite planters and additional seating and planting improvements.
You get a wonderful view of The Shard from Grant's Quay Wharf:
Walk a bit to the west from the London Bridge to the west to watch the Fishmongers Hall. The Fishmongers company was established to provide regulation and quality to the selling of fish. Today the company is more involved with Fisheries and Fishing, as well as charitable work and education. The company is a "Livery Company": a special kind of trade association:
Return to the London Bridge and walk a bit to the east (with your face to the river - to the left) to see the Billingsgate Market. A Victorian building that was originally Billingsgate Fish Market, the world's past largest fish market (moved to the Isle of Dogs in the 1980s). Nowadays, an hospitality and events venue and it remains a major London landmark (private property):
From the Billingsgate Market you can a wonderful view of the Hays Gallery and HM Belfast on the southern bank opposite:
We stay on the northern bank of the Thames and continue eastward. It is 5 minutes walk to The Tower of London (covered in a special trip). From here, take another magical view of the City (20 Fenchurch skycraper):
But, more sensational are the close views to the Tower, the Tower Hill and the Traitors Gate from the Northern Bank. Do not miss this stretch of the Thames. Remember: we are outside of the The Tower premises:
The Tower Bridge and the Tower Cannons:
The Tower Bridge from St. Katherine Docks:
Our final destination is the very scenic St. Katharine Docks. It is a 5-10 minutes walk from the Tower Hill, further eastward, along the Thames, past the Tower Hotel. The presence of warm sun is mandatory to your visit here. Very surprisingly, unpopular touristic site, but, still, rated as one of the top 3% of the London sites - and still, very accessible and close to the central core of London. One of London's best kept secrets. Now in use as yachting marina. Restaurants, shops, wonderful heritage buildings along the harbor, and moored here 120-180 of yachts and boats (from all around the globe) in the heart of London (including: glorious cruisers like the British Royal Barge of Queen Elizabeth II, the boat that carried Winston Churchill's body down the Thames. Note: The Thames Clipper service also stops at St. Katharine Docks as well.
You can walk back to the Tower Hill complex of stations and catch even more photos of the Tower. Try to watch the Tower Hill from the south-west corner of it - In the afternoon hours, when the sun(...) is in the west. This one taken from the promenade south to the Tower Hill: