London Photo Gallery - Westminster

The City of Westminster is home to many of London's grandest attractions and the political centre. My walking tour begins at Westminster Bridge looking at Big Ben inside Elizabeth Tower. The clock started ticking in 1859 and the structure was covered in scaffolding from 2017 to 2022 for restoration that costed 80 million pounds. Can you see the dials are now back to their original Prussian blue?

I had always thought churches are free spaces that welcomes anyone and everyone. But it costs 25 pounds to go into Westminster Abbey as a tourist, or nothing if you are there to pray and not take photos. For that steep price tag, you get to see the place where coronations, royal burials, and other significant historic events took place.

I was drawn by the various Jubilee consumer items available for sale at the gift shop.

Outside, tourists were busy standing around the Crimea and Indian Mutiny Memorial to get a full photo of the abbey's front. This marble and stone column was built in 1861 to commemmorate the Westminster School pupils who died in the two conflicts.

Continuing down Victoria Street, I passed more government offices and veered into the side streets for the surprisingly nice entrance to St. James's Park Tube station.

Queen Anne's Gate is a quiet side street with grand homes in Queen Anne architectural style. Their backs face into St. James's Park, and the street's tidiness suggests it's not a cheap area to live in.

A short walk away is the serene Royal Military Chapel. During World War II, the church was bombed and destroyed but the 6 silver candles on the main altar had not gone out, and have been kept lit since. The current chapel was built in 1963.

I then headed back to Parliament Square along the leafy Birdcage Walk to see the monumental government buildings along Whitehall. This area was actually a royal residence back in the 16th and 17th centuries until a great fire took out almost everything in 1698.

Don't expect to walk up to 11 Downing Street to say hi to the Prime Minister. The street is blocked off from the public with plenty of security on guard.

The Women of World War II memorial celebrates the 7 million women who worked in vital jobs to help the war effort. There are 17 sculpted uniforms and helmets, which the women had to hang up when the men returned to their jobs after the war.

The Horse Guards building dates from the 18th century and was once the gateway to St. James's and Buckingham Palace. It not only houses a museum but actual stables, with two calvalry troopers from the Queen's Life Guard posted at the entrance today.

While many tourists walked up close to the horse to take photos, it is important to remember they might get annoyed by a stranger's presence.

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