If you are a tourist who loves huge cities, then you are bound to hit London at one time or another. When that comes to pass, you are most probably going to be looking for its most renowned sights and landmarks. Yes, the proud capital of the United Kingdom does have thousands of interesting things to gawk at but let us suggest something a little bit different! Why don’t you explore some of its most exquisite palaces? When the word “royal” comes to mind, it will always bring with it the mental image of the British Royal Family and their members, in turn, possess a great deal of palaces that are worth basking in. So, without further ado, let us see a couple of them that you must not, by any means, leave out (wink)!
1. St James’s Palace:
The heart of the City of Westminster does not only comprise of Westminster Abbey and other world-famous sights – it has other values and refined jewels as well. Considered the most senior royal palace within the bounds of the United Kingdom, St James’s Palace is a must-see to all people exploring inner London. Erected between the years 1531 and 1536 and adhering to the standards of the Tudor architectural style (not something you see on every building as our eyes are already attuned to the Gothic, Romanesque, and the Baroque too much), it has been designated a Grade I building within the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Serving as the London residence to several members of the Royal Family, it is also the place of communion of the Accession Council. Built by the famous Henry VIII, it is considered second only to the next contestant on our list: Buckingham Palace.
2. Buckingham Palace:
Visiting London and leaving out Buckingham Palace, the official residence and administrative headquarters of the incumbent monarch of the United Kingdom, is like eating cherry-flavoured cake without a cherry on top of it. In other words, it would be a waste. Located deep within the heart of the City of Westminster, the palace is currently the cultural and historical core of Britain. Utilised for all sorts of official events that you see on television, it used to be called Buckingham House, an imposing townhouse constructed for the Duke of Buckingham (1703). Finally, after 150 long years of private ownership, it was purchased by King George III, who meant for it to become the harbourer of Queen Charlotte (and so it was to be called the Queen’s House). It reached its full-grown size only in the 19-20th centuries and today it has 775 rooms and the largest private garden in the entirety of London. And here comes the most interesting part: ask around and try to catch a glimpse of an official “Guard Change” (wink)!
3. Eltham Palace:
Ready for another eye-popper? If you happen to be aimlessly meandering in south-eastern London, in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, be sure to check out Eltham Palace. Though not as glamorous as the previous contestant, it does warrant a few nods of appreciation (especially from architecture-buffs). Maintained by the Crown Estate and currently unoccupied, it is considered a “masterpiece of modern design” for its Art Deco interior furnishings and motifs. Also listed as a Grade I building within the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, it can be reached via the Mottingham railway station or the Eltham railway station (so no, you don’t have to meander all day, you can just take the train). And if you are into moats and gardens, know that this special royal property will not disappoint.
4. Palace of Westminster:
Did you know that Big Ben is actually the heaviest bell of the Elisabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster and not the name of the spire itself? Standing majestically on the bank of the River Thames, the Palace of Westminster is the most recognisable landmark of the capital city of the United Kingdom. Known as the meeting place of the House of Commons and, of course, that of the House of Lords, it was only fitting that it should be listed as a Grade I building within the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Designated also a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, its initial incarnation was built in 1016. After being demolished due to irreparable damage from a fire in 1834, it was rebuilt between the years 1840 and 1870. Adhering to the imposing standards of the Perpendicular Gothic Revival architectural style (another style that is not an everyday sight), it is owned by none other than Queen Elizabeth II in right of the Crown. Speaking of the British Royal Family, this building is in a tie as direct as it can be with its members. We would say that it is definitely a must-see, but you are unlikely to miss it (triple wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? Which of the aforementioned architectural masterpieces have you visited and what lasting impressions have they burned into you? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it! See you on our next adventure!