London is home to a staggering number of attractions which range from prehistoric fossils to priceless artworks, stately palaces to world class museums. Visitor to the city never cease to be amazed at the sheer variety of places to visit and the number of attractions to explore. This ancient city has a myriad of cultural attractions, which make it a popular destination with culture buffs. London sees an influx of millions of tourists to its shores every year.
Step out of the Marble Arch Hotel London and there is a treasure trove of cultural spots to explore all around the city. Some of the top cultural not-to-miss spots on a visit to London are:
London Transport Museum: One of the most iconic symbols of Britain is undoubtedly its double-decker red Routemaster buses. While the old buses have been taken off the streets to make way for newer versions, visitors can see the 1954 original prototype at the London Transport Museum. Apart from this historic symbol visitors also get a glimpse of various trams and buses from different periods of the city’s transport history. There is the city’s first Underground steam train among loads of other fascinating exhibits.
Museum of London: Britain has not always been ruled by monarchs with the period 1653-58, being the time when Oliver Cromwell declared himself to be the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Oliver Cromwell came from an affluent family of gentleman farmers and was also a war hero. Loved by some and reviled by others Cromwell was a controversial figure who wielded the same powers of a monarch without being king. He was a staunch puritan who had gone ahead and abolished the festival of Christmas during his brief tenure as ruler. Despite his unpopularity he is known to be the founding father of democracy in future England. After his death in 1658, the monarchy was firmly re-established within two years. There is a statue of him outside Westminster Palace (the Houses of Parliament) and visitors can also see a plaster cast of Oliver Cromwell at the Museum of London.
The British Museum: One of the most visited museums in the world The British Museum is home to some of the most historic relics known to mankind. One of the most popular and visited sections features archaeological finds from the long lost Egyptian cities of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion. There are over 200 rare finds which include gold jewellery, massive sculptures, metal-ware etc. of these sunken cities to be seen in the museum. Then there are of course there biggest draws which include the Parthenon Sculptures, The Rosetta Stone and the Lewis Chessmen among other world class artefacts. A visit to the British Museum is an experience not to be missed!
Charles Dickens Museum: A great place to visit to see where one of Britain’s most celebrated writers lived and wrote many of his works including the “Great Expectations”. The focal point is his famous writing desk that narrowly escaped coming under an auctioneer’s mallet, when a grant of over half a million pounds saved it for posterity at his home. It is a very popular place to visit among literary lovers and culture buffs alike.
The National Gallery: A treasure trove of fine artwork the National Gallery is one of the most poular art museums in the world. Among its many fine paintings is the famous “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh, which forms part of the series of 4 sunflower paintings that he wanted to present to Paul Gauguin, his mentor. This masterpiece of Van Gogh was his personal favourite and was painted just 2 years before he was stricken with a nervous breakdown, from which he never recovered and later died. Apart from Sunflowers there are a host of other European masters’ paintings to be found at the gallery.
Natural History Museum: Home to Dippy the Diplodocus massive life-size skeleton cast, it is one of the most popular draws with visitors to the museum. At the time of its discovery in 1898, it was billed as the largest animal of its type to have ever roamed the planet. In the summer of 2017, there are plans to replace Dippy with an equally massive skeleton of a blue whale, within the Central Hall known as Hintze Hall. So if you are in London this summer make a beeline to see Dippy at the museum!
Tate Modern: One of the most well known art museums in the country the Tate Modern is home to “The Three Dancers” by Pablo Picasso, which is an iconic creation of the famous Spanish artist that depicts three individuals in a rather twisted and outré dance pose. It was created by the master artists in 1925, and was his first piece of art featuring Surrealism. There is a lot of mystery and folklore surrounding this particular piece of art, which makes it all the more popular with visitors. Apart from its most well known exhibit, the Tate Modern has scores of other world class modern and contemporary art collections.
Imperial War Museum: The dreaded Nazi V1 flying bomb and V2 rocket wreaked havoc in London at the end of World War II. However, a little known fact is that both of these missiles caused much more death and damage when they were being manufactured. The creator of V2 rocket, was the brilliant Wernher von Braun, who along with hundreds of other German engineers and scientists were whisked off by the OSS to the US to work in their space programme. In fact the Saturn V rocket which sent the first astronauts to the moon was created by Wernher von Braun. Visitors to the museum can see the V1 and V2, which occupy a prominent place among the many other exhibits.