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May 09

Travel Attraction: Tower of London

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Visitors to the historic tower of London these days are in much better spirits than many of its occupants in centuries past. The tightly packed fortress is a medieval throwback that sits perched between the timeless river and some of London’s most modern skyscrapers.

 

While many so called essential tourist stops can be bypassed, this one is certainly worth seeing. There are always good exhibitions going on, the ramparts, towers, drawbridges and Crown Jewels exhibitions are just some of the surreal experiences that await curious tourists.

 

Getting there:

 

Any informed visitor will arrive by subway, bus or taxi. Driving oneself in this part of the city doesn’t make sense and parking is limited. The Tower Hill Metro station is the most popular for tube riding tourists to approach from. Signs are everywhere and the tower is a 5 minute walk away.  Bus routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1 all stop here too.

 

Access:

There are several plans and packages to access the tower, but a standard individual adult rate is 22 pounds. Prices are reduced by a few pounds for getting tickets online, buying for groups or family packages. It is always a good idea to check the informative website about closures and holidays. Tickets include access to the Crown Jewels Exhibition, Tower access, a Yeoman guided tour, White tower tour and various children’s activities.

 

Highlights:

 

The tower holds the stories of many men and women across the ages who served prison and death sentences here. It is quite eerie to see their cells and the places where they died, but the history comes alive in any of the guided tours. Take note the tales might be a bit gory and fantastic, but that’s the Yeoman’s job to enliven the experience. The buildings are wonderfully preserved and have much to be admired. The place can be drafty and cold, so be sure to dress warm.

 

Inside the halls it is possible to see the past and present functions of an armory, a menagerie for exotic pets, an ancient chapel, the Royal Mint, and the home of the crown jewels. The jewels are quite impressive and it is a wonder to see them. It is a good idea to plan on giving the experience a half a day to do it justice. I recommend a morning visit, there will be virtually no line for the crown jewels and the entire experience will go much faster than it would after lunchtime. This also enables you to explore and enjoy the riverfront area in late afternoon, when it is most beautiful.

 

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