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"Houses of Parliament" Houses of Parliament - Palace of Westminster Tip by xiquinho

  Houses of Parliament
by xiquinho

The City of Westminster, at the heart of London is the place where the parliaments have been located for more than 700 years. In the middle of the 11th century, the Edward the Confessor had moved his court to the Palace of Westminster, situated on a central site near the river Thames. It wasn't until 1256 that Henry III moved the Great Parliament to the Palace.

In 1834, a fire destroyed the ancient Palace of Westminster, upon which a competition was commissioned to build a new building in the Gothic or Elizabethan style. A design of Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin was chosen from 97 entries. On the freshly married Prince Albert's request, artists were sought to create fresco-like designs depicting British history to decorate the new palace. The more than 300 meters long façade is now adorned with countless sculptures, and makes the Houses of Parliament together with the strict design and unique towers one of the finest buildings in London.

The whole complex, not finished until 1860 includes the Big Ben, House of Commons, Westminster Hall, the Lobbies and the House of Lords.

Most of the attention of the millions of tourists visiting the Houses of Parliament each year, goes to the clock tower. This tower, opposite the larger Victoria Tower is better known as the Big Ben , the nickname of the bell inside the tower. It is uncertain whether the nickname comes from Benjamin Hall, the first commissioner of Works, or from Benjamin Caunt, a famous boxer. The Big Ben is only one of five bells hanging in the clock tower, but it is with its 13 tons the largest. The clock itself was designed by E.B. Denison & E.J. Dent and was completed in 1858. The clock tower reaches a height of no less than 96 meters.

Address: Parliament Square, SW1, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Directions: Nearest Tube, Westminster. Near Broad Sanctuary.
Phone: +44 20 7219 3000

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  • Updated Oct 20, 2004
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