The off-beat guide to Lon­don

For­get the tourist traps and take ad­van­tage of Lon­don’s best-kept his­tor­i­cal se­crets

Virtuozity - - Travel -

Per­haps more than any ma­jor world city, Lon­don is a par­adise for the am­a­teur his­tory buff. hav­ing been around, in one form or an­other, for about 2,000 years, Lon­don brims with his­tor­i­cal sites de­tail­ing the rise and fall of the world’s great civil­i­sa­tions.

the big at­trac­tions are known the world over—big Ben, the houses of Par­lia­ment, the tower of Lon­don, Buck­ing­ham Palace. But the thou­sands of daily tourists who visit them make it dif­fi­cult to ap­pre­ci­ate the his­tory that the build­ings con­vey. and plus, when ev­ery­one knows the sto­ries be­hind these at­trac­tions, how much can re­ally be learnt by div­ing into the throngs of peo­ple jostling for the best view?

In­stead, his­tory buffs are now look­ing for Lon­don’s best-kept se­crets—the sites that il­lus­trate the city’s mil­len­nia-old cul­ture, with­out ask­ing vis­i­tors to fight their way through un­end­ing crowds to ap­pre­ci­ate it.

It should be noted, how­ever, that many of Lon­don’s off-the-beaten-track at­trac­tions do con­nect rather well with the more grue­some parts of its his­tory. the south­wark nee­dle by Lon­don Bridge, for ex­am­ple, is a svelte spike­like mon­u­ment made of Port­land stone. But it marks the ap­prox­i­mate spot where, for around 400 years, the heads of traitors were im­paled on wooden spears—the first of whom was said to be Wil­liam ‘Brave­heart’ Wal­lace in 1305.

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