London is the capital of the United Kingdom and the home of its queen, Elizabeth II. It’s also the largest city in Europe

November 27, 2012 9:21 am

London is the capital of the United Kingdom and the home of its queen, Elizabeth II. It’s also the largest city in Europe. About 8 million people call London home.
Millions of people visit London every year from all over the world. If you travel there, you’ll find many fascinating things to see and do.
During August and September, you can visit Buckingham Palace. That’s where the queen lives most of the year. It has about 600 rooms, but you’ll see only state rooms where the queen entertains guests. In the morning, a colorful ceremony called “changing of the guard” takes place in the palace courtyard. One group of palace guards marches off duty, and another troop arrives to replace them.
You can tour the Tower of London, a historic fortress that was once a royal palace. It was also used as a prison for hundreds of years. Two of the wives of King Henry VIII—Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard—were put to death here. The Crown Jewels are a popular attraction at the Tower. This collection of jeweled crowns, swords, scepters, and other royal objects is only used on special occasions, such as the crowning of a new ruler.
Be sure to visit Westminster Abbey, one of Britain’s famous churches. The nation’s kings and queens are crowned here. Many rulers and famous citizens are buried here. There are also monuments to political figures and poets.
The Houses of Parliament are along the Thames River, near Westminster Abbey. This is where the government meets. Look up to see the clock tower with Big Ben, London’s famous bell that rings every hour. You can get on a boat nearby for a ride on the Thames.
Other places you might want to see are Scotland Yard, Madame Tussaud’s, and the British Museum. You can find out about London’s famous criminals in the Crime Museum at Scotland Yard, the home of London’s Metropolitan Police. At Madame Tussaud’s, you’ll see eerily realistic, life-size wax figures of pop idols and historic figures. A great thing to see at the British Museum is the collection of mummies, tomb paintings, and gold jewelry from ancient Egypt. The museum’s Egyptian collection is one of the largest in the world.
For a good view of London, take a ride in the London Eye. This enormous wheel takes you 443 feet (135 meters) above the London skyline. Unlike a traditional Ferris wheel, the London Eye carries its passengers in enclosed compartments.
A quick and easy way to get from place to place in London is by Tube, a network of underground trains. You’ll see more, however, if you travel around London by bus. Sit upstairs on London’s double-decker buses for a good view.
London is nearly 2,000 years old. It was founded by the ancient Romans soon after they invaded Britain in ad 43. The city has been sacked (destroyed) several times by invaders. It has also been destroyed by fire. In 1666, the Great Fire of London burned down a large part of the city.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, London was the world’s largest city. It sat at the center of a vast and powerful British empire that circled the globe. The city was heavily damaged by German bombing during World War II (1939-1945). The damaged areas were rebuilt after the war.
The residents of this sprawling city today are a mix of many races and nationalities. Many Londoners come from former British colonies, such as India, Pakistan, Jamaica, South Africa, and Hong Kong. This makes London one of the world’s most international .
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