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The Monument (London)
Member Name: Brooke3
The Monument (London)
Advantages: Apparently the views are good
Disadvantages: The staircase doesn't feel secure
In 1666 London burnt down. When London was rebuilt it was decided that, although people were starving and homeless after losing their houses and most of their belongings, a monument would be built in memorial of the fire. Centuries later that monument is still standing, although if you are planning to visit The Monument you will be pleased to know that there has been a lot of maintenance work done on it.
I had no interest in Monument at all. I was aware that it existed, I knew why it had been built but it just didn't interest me at all. However, when I found myself in the City with a couple of friends and one of them suggested that we go to the Monument I couldn't think of any reason why we shouldn't.
To get into monument you can't be too big. I'm a size 16 and had to squeeze through a tiny little gate to get in. I can imagine than anyone who is much bigger will find it impossible. I'm not saying this as a complaint, the Monument was built centuries ago when people were smaller, I'm just warning you.
The staff were really friendly. There was one man working in the little booth taking money and a woman stood at the bottom of the stairs giving out certificates to people as they left. A friend of mine was very nervous and the woman really put her at ease by making a joke and promising her a certificate when she gets back down.
We then began to climb the 311 steps to the top.
This is quite possibly one of the most unpleasant things that I've done in a long time. There's basically a spiral staircase that goes all the way up to the top of the 61 metre tall Monument. There are people coming down and people going up at the same time and as with all spiral staircases the outside of each step is quite narrow. Although I have not fallen down the stairs since I was a child I got really nervous. There's only a handrail on one side so when you pass someone on the stairs you have to choose between standing on the narrow side of the step and having something to hold onto or standing on the wider side of the step but not holding onto anything.
Obviously 311 steps is quite a lot so you do have to think about your fitness level. Every now and then there are openings in the wall that are big enough for people to sit in so you can rest as you go up but I would not recommend this for anyone who is really unfit. I had to sit in them a couple of times because as I got higher I was beginning to feel more and more unsteady. I hadn't considered my fear of heights before going into Monument!
I didn't make it to the top. I am ashamed to say that I was about 20 steps from the top and I turned around and walked back down. As I have said, I have a fear of heights and although I managed to stay calm for most of the way up as we got closer to the top the stair case got narrower and there were more people coming down, which was making it very difficult to move upwards. I held onto the handrail determined to get to the top, even if I would be too terrified to actually enjoy the view, but the handrail was feeling less stable and that was the final straw. I turned around and walked back down, leaving my friends to continue their journey without me.
Going down is of course a lot worse than going up. Fortunately you can't really see how high up you are, unless you lean over the edge of the rail but I was not inclined to do so!
I still received my certificate which also contains some interesting but brief information about the Monument.
Overall I did not enjoy my experience. My friends said that the view was amazing but that's much good if you can't make it to the top! There's not really anything that can be done to improve this, it's an old building and no amount of renovation is really going to make it any better for people like me unless they completely changed the building which would defeat the purpose of visiting the Monument. This attraction simply wasn't for me. I can deal with heights, even though I'm scared of them, but not when they're coupled with a staircase that doesn't feel secure.
Obviously this building is not accessible to wheelchair users and I would not recommend it for anyone with young children either.
Admission is £3 for adults, with discounts available.
For more information please visit: http://www.themonument.info/
Summary: I'm sure it's great if you can actually make it to the top
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