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The Monument (London)
Member Name: Mephit
The Monument (London)
Date: 27/05/11, updated on 27/05/11 (77 review reads)
Advantages: Fantastic views, good value, educational
Disadvantages: not accessible for the less mobile
We stopped off on the way home from holiday to sight-see for an afternoon in London. We were walking from Monument station to the Thames, to walk down to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, and almost by accident came across the actual Monument, near London Bridge.
When I spotted this exciting edifice, I stopped the family to take a photo in embarrassing tourist style. Then we noticed people at the top...
I'd never known you could go up the Monument (it wasn't an attraction I'd ever thought of visiting before). We made an instant decision to go ourselves, and walked down to the entrance. There was no queue at the reception desk in the base of the tower, so we paid £3 per adult and £1.50 per child and started straight up. (Of course, we were visiting out of peak season, so there may well be waits during busy times).
There were two staff visible, one of whom had a wonderful moustache with neatly twiddled ends, not something you usually see upon a young man! They were both very helpful and approachable.
*** Up up up! ***
Well, getting up there involves a spiral stone staircase, with a handrail in the middle. If you meet people going the opposite way, one person needs to press themselves to the wall to allow the other to pass. There are occasional hollows where the puffed-out can sit to regain their composure. There are also windows at intervals, giving glimpses of the views to come. It's well-kept and clean, with plenty of natural light, considering you're inside the walls of a skinny stone column.
It took us a good few minutes to climb the 311 steps to the top. You step out onto the public gallery, approximately 160 feet above ground. The platform is a good couple of yards wide and encircles the Monument. A steel mesh encloses it, so there's no chance of toppling off (or climbing up to the gilt bronze tip were you such a daredevil!) but you can still take photos through it.
It was quite a windy day, and we were blasted in one direction, which made the children shriek and laugh, but when we walked round we found calmer areas. The views out over London were absolutely fantastic: St Pauls Cathedral to one side, Tower Bridge and Thames, the big old glass Gherkin and the Millenium Eye. I took some nice snaps.
There weren't that many other visitors, so it was a relaxed (in a hair-raisingly high kind of way) look around.
Obviously the Monument isn't wheelchair accessible and isn't suitable for those with low mobility. Younger children and the elderly would also struggle. There is a panoramic camera system that can be accessed to enjoy the views and can also be found online at the Monument's website.
*** Down down down ***
Our descent was easy, although I'd be dreading it (I remember literally shuffling on my bum all the way down flights of stairs of a lighthouse once, as I was too petrified to walk! I seem to be getting over my fear of heights, largely).
On our way out, we were given some lovely printed certificates to show we'd climbed the 311 steps to the viewing platform. These were really nicely done and unexpected, so added a lot of value in our eyes.
I feel the Monument was well worth a visit.
*** Why why why ***
The Monument was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666 to the design of Sir Christopher Wren and has stood boldly over London since 1677. Now its neighbours loom large, but it's still an amazing piece of architecture. It is 61 metres high, which is also the distance it stands from the bakery where the Great Fire began in Pudding Lane.
More history and information can be found at the Monument's website.
*** Opening Information (as available from its website) ***
Open Daily: 09.30 - 17.30 (last admission) 17.00
Please call +44 (0) 207 626 2717 for details.
Combined ticket with Tower Bridge Exhibition
NOTE: Children of 13 years or younger must be accompanied by an Adult in order to climb the Monument.
NOTE: The Monument is closed 24 - 26 December and the 1 January.
Summary: Well worth a visit
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