They say Paris was the city of the nineteenth century, that New York was the dominant metropolis of the twentieth century and that the twenty-first century belongs to London. A closer view makes it difficult to argue.
London is a city steeped in history and you get a real sense of that when you walk around the centre of the city. There are the obvious iconic buildings like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace and modern landmarks such as the O2 (previously known as the Millennium Dome), The London Eye, the MI6 building, the Gherkin and now the newly built Shard. Of course its hosting of the recent Summer Olympics along with the celebrations for the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign put the city at the centre stage of the global media in 2012. However, it’s often the little iconic streets and buildings that will really make you marvel at a city which along with possibly the two cities mentioned earlier enjoys a unique global status whose notoriety is unsurpassed. Some examples include Savile Row, famous for its centuries of fine bespoke tailoring, Fleet Street, the traditional home of the British national newspapers until the 1980’s and Pall Mall, the street where the fictional character Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s novel ‘Around The World in 80 Days’ sets off to circumnavigate the world on a bet with his fellow members which began and ended there at the Reform Club.
There is also Abbey Road, widely recognised in modern culture for the title and iconic image of arguably the Beatles finest album which released in 1969 famously shows the band traversing a zebra crossing on that very street. There‘s four iconic streets and that’s just a few quick examples. In many cities, they would be all be considered major tourist attractions, yet in London with its rich and illustrious history and culture they may barely get a mention in many of London’s tourist books. If buildings aren’t your thing, let’s try some famous citizens of ‘The Big Smoke’ (London’s nickname since the great smog of 1952. They may want to consider a new nickname for the uber cool and green 21st century, as this one is no ‘Big Apple’). Let’s even keep it down to a few…reckon this might impress even the harshest of critics; Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Ian Fleming, David Bowie, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor….. even David Beckham are all from London or spend most of their life there. Of course there are also famous fictional characters too such as Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Harry Potter and Ebenezer Scrooge amongst others.
Of course, for many people, it’s just seeing the iconic symbols of London like the red doubledecker buses, especially the old routemaster model with the rear entrance, the Beefeaters in their quirky uniforms that guard the Tower of London, the traditional black taxi cabs, the London bobbies and their funny custodian helmets or the red postboxes on the streets. So suffice to say, if you’ve decided to explore London in just a few days, then you’re going to need a comfortable pair of shoes and another holiday to relax after this busy little adventure.