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UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Tower of London
Member Name: julwhite
The Tower of London
Advantages: Fantastic history, Crown Jewels
Disadvantages: Very expensive
The Tower of London is situated in the heart of London near the River Thames, and the original White Tower in the centre of the complex has been there since 1078. The site is one of Britain's most historic monuments and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Tower is open seven days a week, from 9am in the morning until 5.30 at night, with the last admission being at 5pm. The Tower opens a little later on Sundays and Mondays.
There are lots of different elements to the Tower of London, there is the historic castle element to look at, the Jewel Tower where the Crown Jewels are kept, the areas used as a torture chamber and prison, the ravens, a place of execution and the grounds of the building. It's certainly a place which has had a long, and sometimes grim, history.
The White Tower is the central block, the first to be built on the site by William I following his conquest of England. It was painted white later on by a later King, hence where it took its name from. There are also another thirteen towers which protect this one, just going to show how large the whole set of buildings and defences are.
The site has long been used as a prison, and was used as such in World War Two very briefly when Rudolf Hess was locked in the Tower. It is infamous for being where Henry VIII's prisoners were sent, and those of other Kings and Queens through the ages. Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII's six wives was also executed here.
The grounds inside the Tower are much larger than they appear from the outside and there are numerous other buildings to visit. There have been lots of changes to the site over the centuries, but the Tower of London has also housed a large zoo, been a barracks and a living place for hundreds of people. Displays detail where these areas used to be, and there are details of the archaeological digs which have taken place in the site and nearby.
The Crown Jewels have been held at the Tower of London for over seven hundred years, and have survived numerous theft attempts. They are an amazing set of items to go and see, with the Coronation Crown looking just amazing in its protective case.
Also remember to go and look at the ravens, the rumour goes that if these ravens should leave the Tower of London, then the whole of England would fall. When I was younger I always wondered why they didn't just fly away, but for the sake of England's future, they have had their wings clipped!
There are two other ways to get a tour of the site. You can either borrow an audio CD, which is 3.50 pounds plus an additional refundable security deposit. Alternatively you can go on the Beefeater's tours which start every half hour and last for about an hour.
There are also two restaurants on the site, the New Armories Restaurant (so called because it is built on an area where military arms used to be held) and there is also a cafe restaurant called Tower Wharf. These are reasonable value, but remember to visit their web-site first as they have discount vouchers to print out.
The biggest problem in my view is the price of the attraction, which seems very extreme. Although I understand this is a very important site, the charge of 16.50 pounds for adults and 9.50 pounds for children is a lot of money, especially for families. There is an individual annual membership of 36 pounds which is better value and also gets you entry into other Royal Palaces.
The reason I'm giving the site three stars out of five is because this is an important site, but it's too expensive. The attraction is likely to appeal to children only for a morning or afternoon, and it's a large cost for a few hours entertainment. However, for a site of national importance it would be a shame for people not to visit because they can't afford it.
It's a shame that The Tower of London couldn't get the same system as the other large museums in London, such as the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum, which are free to enter because of grants which they can get from the Government.
Overall, it's a site which should be visited once, even though you should prepare yourself for the cost!
Summary: Worth a visit at least once, but getting very expensive
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