Newest Review: ... by an eminent Gothic Revival architect, Augustus Pugin (who went mad and died soon after designing it) and remains, together with t... more
The most famous of London landmarks
Big Ben (London)
Member Name: MagdaDH
Big Ben (London)
Advantages: famous landmark
Disadvantages: no easy way in
The Big Ben has been voted the most popular landmark in the UK in a survey of 2,000 Britons and it remains one of the most popular icons of London, possibly THE most popular one together with the Palace of Westminster.
The nick-name Big Ben is thought to originally applied to the Great Bell (a 14-tonne main bell of the Westminster clock), then to the clock as a whole, and by extension, to the clock tower.
The tower and the clock was designed by an eminent Gothic Revival architect, Augustus Pugin (who went mad and died soon after designing it) and remains, together with the whole rebuilt Palace of Westminster, one of the masterpieces of the style. It is 96m high, with the bottom two-thirds constructed of brick with limestone cladding and the top section, a framed cast-iron spire. The clock sits 55 metres above ground and the clock faces are 7 metres in diameter, filled by pieces of opal glass. The small hand is almost 3m long, and the minute hand is over 4m long.
I have a somewhat ambivalent attitude to the Gothic Revival style in architecture. Where I grew up, the 19th century was a somewhat barren period, architecturally, and I was taught that all the neo, mock and revival styles that appeared then were not worthy of much attention. Only on arrival in the UK I realised that the neo-Gothic (as well as other neo- and eclectic buildings) could be recognised among the greatest works of architecture in the country. I learned to appreciate, and even admire the Gothic Revival masterpieces, although I still don't actually like them that much, .
Still, the Westminster Palace in general, and Pugin's tower in particular are seriously impressive, beautiful even, despite their over-the-top, Victorian, ''gothic'' as well as Gothic stylisation. The architects of these buildings created something more than a mockery or even a revival of of a medieval style of building. The use of cast iron elements in the spire is particularly inspired, making a link with the outstanding engineering achievements of the 19th century.
Summary: the icon of Britain