The first weekend of September I took a train into London with a couple friends to see the sights. My first trip to London, we spent too much time at Highgate Cemetery and didn’t get to see much else… It was time to correct that! First stop was the Tower of London, actually first stop was Chipotle for them (I’m not a fan of it), then on to the Tower. I loved the Tudors (HBO show) and have always been interested in King Henry VIII, his wives, and how he changed England from Catholicism to Protestant. A pivotal point in English history in my opinion. And all of it for a woman…
The tower has been around since the year 1066, slowly improved upon over the years. Its famous for being used as a prison, but it was also a residence, and housed various things, like the Royal Mint. For all the hype about the imprisonments and executions, only 7 people actually met their deaths there, 5 of them ladies… Henry VIII was responsible for 4 of these: his second wife, Anne Boleyn, his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, Margaret Pole, and Jane Boleyn. Both wives were executed for treason/adultery, however it is believed Anne was not guilty, he was just desperate to move on after she failed to produce a son for him… Later, when Henry’s first daughter, Mary, becomes queen, she has the Lady Jane Grey executed here as well. Anne and Catherine are apparently buried in a chapel within the Tower of London, somehow I missed this on my trip there, so I’ll need to return again at some point!
Of course the tower has the Crown Jewels as well. When we were there, the crowds weren’t too horrible, so we were able to go in and see those. Impressive and pretty, but not overly exciting. The tower did have plenty of the guards around at various posts. We got to see some swapping out, from a distance, wrong place wrong time of course!
When we finished with the tower, we went to see St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was built in the late 17th century. While the cathedral is impressive and beautiful, we went there for the view of London. Inside the cathedral, there is a staircase up… This takes you up to the whispering gallery or basically, inside the dome (257 steps), which as you can see in the picture I snapped real quick, is covered with elaborate paintings. From there, you can continue climbing up (119 steps) to the stone gallery, and come out above the dome, looking out over the city. However, you aren’t done yet, unless you want to be. Going back inside, there’s another 152 steps to the Golden Gallery. If you make it here, you’ll have climbed 528 steps! I don’t recommend this on a hot day! It was a warm day, and boy were we sweating as we climbed all those stairs! However, the view is amazing!! If you want to see London from above, you must make this climb. The cathedral is located on the highest hill in the city, which added in with its height of 85 meters… Breathtaking, and well worth the sweat you’ll break.
By the time we were done with the climb at St. Paul’s and made it over to see the Parliament buildings and Westminster Abbey, they were closing up for the evening, so we didn’t get to go inside. However, it was still worth it to see the buildings, and I lucked out and found the gorgeous old car in front of Westminster (top of the post), just begging to be photographed… I had to oblige!