Kew Gardens Royal Botanic Gardens…..

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in West London is one of the world’s most important botanical gardens. The 132ha (326 acres) large domain boasts a collection of about fifty thousand different plant species as well as many impressive buildings such as the Palm House and the ten-story Pagoda.

History

The history of the botanical garden goes back to 1759, when Princess Augusta,

The famous Palm House at the Kew Gardens in London

Palm House

mother of king George III, started developing a 3.6 ha large garden at the domain of White Lodge, Richmond in west London with the help of gardener William Aiton and botanist Lord Bute. William Chambers designed several structures for the garden, including the orangery and the pagoda. The botanical garden actually occupied just a small part of the garden, the rest was designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

In 1772 King George III inherited Princess Augusta’s garden after he had already inherited George II’s country house in Kew, a three hectare large estate near the botanical garden. George III decided to join the two royal domains and he put

Rock Garden, Kew Gardens, London

Rock Garden

Joseph Banks in charge of enlarging and planting the combined gardens.

Joseph Banks had just returned from his journey around the world with Captain Cook and had collected a large amount of exotic plants on his trip. During his tenure at Kew, Banks established Kew Garden’s reputation as one of the leading horticultural research centers in the world. The garden would continue to expand over the years.

In 1841 the Kew Gardens were donated to the state. Soon after, several large greenhouses were added such as the famous Palm House

Japanese Gateway, Kew Gardens, London

Japanese Gateway

and the Temperate House. The large vistas were also created during this time.
In July 2003 Kew Gardens was put on the Unesco World Heritage list thanks to the historical importance of the garden and its many unique edifices.

The Gardens

The whole domain encompasses an impressive 132ha (326 acres), with about 50,000 different species of plants to discover. Some areas are formally laid out with flower beds or themed gardens such as the large alpine garden. A large part of the domain is laid out in English style. The western part of the domain in particular,

Syon Vista, Kew Gardens, London

Syon Vista

with its wide open vistas, invites you to casually stroll through the gardens. If you find the walk too long you can always take a ride on the Kew Explorer, a hop on and off trolley that tours the gardens.

Several of Kew’s most famous buildings, such as the Pagoda, the Temperate House and the Palm House are situated on the east side of the domain. The most crowded part is the northeast corner of the park where you find attractions such as the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Rock Garden, order beds, Waterlily House and the Palm House. But there are interesting sights all over the Kew Gardens, such as the Japanese Gateway, the Waterlily Pond, the Treetop Walkway and Kew Palace.

Palm House, Kew Gardens, London

Palm House

In all you’ll need a full day to explore all the interesting attractions at the Kew Gardens.

 

The Greenhouses

The most famous of the many greenhouses at Kew is the Palm House, built between 1844 and 1848. The magnificent glass and iron structure was designed by Decimus Burton and Richard Turner. The graceful ironwork structure is among the finest buildings of its era. Inside the Palm House you find plants from the Tropical Rainforest. Make sure you walk up the spiral staircase to the footbridge where temperature and humidity are at its highest.

Temperate House, Kew Gardens, London

Temperate House

Richard Burton also designed the Temperate House, Kew’s largest greenhouse. Construction started shortly after the Palm House was completed but it would take forty years before it finally opened in 1899, when it was the largest greenhouse in the world.

A third large greenhouse in Kew is the Princess of Wales Conservatory which opened in 1987. This is an expansive building with ten different climatic zones, ranging from a desert climate on one end to a tropical climate at the other end. In this greenhouse, which replaced 26 older ones,

Waterlily House, Kew Gardens, London

Waterlily House

you’ll find plants such as cacti, carnivorous plants, ferns and orchids, some of which have ‘air roots’.

A much smaller but no less interesting greenhouse is the Waterlily House, which was built in 1852. The giant water lilies have leaves that can reach a diameter of up to 2.5 meter (8ft). The leaves can support a weight of up to 45 kg.

Other Buildings

The most peculiar building at the gardens is the ten-story-tall pagoda. Designed by William Chambers and built between 1761 and 1762, this is the one of the oldest buildings at Kew. The tower is a testimony to the fascination of the

Pagoda, Kew Gardens, London

Pagoda

British for the Orient during the eighteenth century.

An even older building is the Kew Palace, originally built in 1631 by a London merchant with Flemish roots, which explains the stepped rooftop. In the eighteenth century the mansion became royal property and was occupied by figures such as King George III.

Another building with royal connections is Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, a small structure built in 1771 as a picnic retreat for Queen Charlotte.

Treetop walkway

A very popular attraction at the Kew Gardens is the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, a platform eighteen meters (59 ft) above the ground. The walkway was designed by Marks Barfield Architects,

Treetop Walkway, Kew Gardens, London

Treetop Walkway

the same people responsible for the London Eye. Opened in May 2002, the two-hundred meter (656ft) long walkway gives you an opportunity to explore the treetop canopy and experience the trees and surroundings from a completely different perspective.

Another attraction nearby is the Rhizotron which is the opposite of the walkway: it shows the world of trees below the ground as you walk through a ‘crack’ in the ground.

More attractions

There are plenty of other interesting attractions on the grounds of the Kew Gardens, such as an evolution house, a Japanese Gateway and the King William’s Temple. There’s even a mock roman arch, known as the ‘ruined arch’ and two small temples. For an overview of all the sights at Kew Gardens, have a look at their excellent sitehere.

Kensington Gardens….

The gardens of the Kensington Palace cover around 111 hectares or 275 acres and border Hyde Park on the east. Its main attraction is the Kensington Palace, one of several royal palaces in London.

History

Kensington Gardens, London

Kensington Gardens
The history of Kensington Gardens started in 1689, when King William III and Mary II bought the Nottingham house in Kensington. The house was turned into a palace by Christopher Wren and the five hectares (12 acres) large garden was enlarged by Queen Anne, partly by acquiring forty hectares (100 acres) of Hyde Park in 1705.The garden was constantly redesigned, especially by Queen Anne and later by Queen Caroline. Queen Anne added the Orangery, a red-brick building north of the Kensington Palace used for housing plants during winter time.

Present Form

Long Water, Kensington Gardens

Long Water
The present form of the Kensington Gardens can be attributed to Queen Caroline, wife of King George II.
She added the Round Pond and commissioned the Serpentine and Long Water, a large lake at the eastern end of the Kensington Gardens created from a string of ponds. Two summerhouses were added to the gardens, one of them – the Queen’s Temple – still exists. Queen Victoria added the Italian gardens and the Albert Memorial.

Sights & Attractions

Kensington Gardens is very popular for walking and jogging. Early morning you’ll encounter plenty of people walking their dog. There are quite a few sights in the park, several of which are on many tourists’ itinerary, including Kensington Palace, the Albert Memorialand the statue of Peter Pan.

Kensington Palace

Statue of Queen Victoria, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens

Statue of Queen
Victoria in front of
Kensington Palace
The most famous attraction in Kensington Gardens is without a doubt Kensington Palace, the former home of Princess Diana and the birthplace of Queen Victoria.
The red brick palace was originally built in 1605 as a mansion by the Earl of Nottingham. It became a palace in 1689 when it was bought by King William III. Today the palace is still a royal residence – prince William and Kate Middleton live here – but you can visit parts of the palace, including the Queen’s apartments and the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection.
In front of the east side of Kensington Palace is a marble statue of a young Queen Victoria, created by her own daughter, Princess Louise, and unveiled in 1893 in the presence of the queen.

Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens

Albert Memorial

Peter Pan Statue, Kensington Gardens

Peter Pan
At the south end of the Kensington Gardens you’ll find one of London’s most spectacular monuments: the Albert Memorial.
The neo-Gothic monument, over fifty meters (175ft) tall, was built in 1876 in honor of Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria.
The monument is designed like a huge medieval shrine and is lavishly decorated with reliefs, sculptures and ornaments. Below the pinnacle is a gilded statue of the prince who died in 1861 at the age of forty-two.

 

Statue of Peter Pan

The statue of the famous fictional character Peter Pan is another popular monument in Kensington Gardens. It is situated towards the north end of the gardens, near the Long Water. Peter Pan is shown playing the pipes; he stands on a large tree stump surrounded by small animals. Right below his feet is Tinker Bell, the fairy.
The monument was commissioned and paid for by the creator of Peter Pan, the Scottish novelist James M. Barrie. Barrie met the boy who inspired him to create the story of Peter Pan here, in Kensington Gardens.

Italian Gardens

Swan Urn, Italian Gardens, Kensington Gardens

Swan urn,
Italian Gardens
Just north of the statue of Peter Pan, near Hyde Park, lie the ornate Italian Gardens, a water garden with four octagonal ponds symmetrically arranged around a central marble fountain. Each pond has its own water jets. The garden is enclosed by a beautiful balustrade decorated with numerous reliefs, stone statues and urns.
The Pump House at the north side of the Italian Gardens is designed in the style of an Italian villa. On the east side is a bronze statue of Edward Jenner, an English physician who introduced smallpox vaccinations. The statue was originally erected in Trafalgar Square but was moved here in 1862.

Physical Energy

Physical Energy, Kensington Gardens

Physical Energy
It’s hard to miss the ‘Physical Energy’ monument, an equestrian statue located near the center of the Kensington Gardens, at the intersection of several paths. The statue was installed here in 1907 and is a copy of the main statue of the Cecil Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town, South Africa. The statue was created by George Frederic Watts, a British sculptor.

The Arch

The Arch, Kensington Gardens

The Arch
When you look towards the west from the Energy statue you can see another, more modern, monument entitled the ‘The Arch’. The six-meter high monument, built from large travertine blocks, was created by the English sculptor Henry Moore. It was erected in 1980 at a prominent spot near the Long Water.

More Sights

Sunken garden, Kensington Gardens

Sunken Garden
There’s plenty more to see in Kensington Gardens, including another monument, a granite obelisk that commemorates the explorer John Hanning Speke, who discovered Lake Victoria and the presumed source of the Nile.Nearby, near the Long Water, is Queen Caroline’s Temple, a small eighteenth-century summer pavilion in neoclassical style. Just south of the temple is one of the park’s main cultural attractions: the Serpentine Gallery, a modern art gallery housed in a former tea pavilion.

Two Bears Fountain, Kensington Gardens

Two Bears Fountain

There are also several playgrounds in Kensington Gardens, the latest of which is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground, which is themed around Peter Pan.

Just east of Kensington Palace you’ll find the sunken garden, a beautiful garden created in 1909 and based on a Tudor garden in Hampton Court. Further east is the Round Pond, a favorite with remote controlled boat enthusiasts.

Finally, the adorable Two Bears Fountain, with a sculpture of two bears hugging each other, can be found near the Italian Gardens. It was erected in 1939 to celebrate the eightieth anniversary of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association, which was founded to provide free drinking water for both citizens and animals.

 

Memorial Imperial to Queen Victoria…..

Situated right in front of Buckingham Palace, this large memorial was built the early twentieth century in honor of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the United Kingdom for almost sixty-four years.

The Memorial

The Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, London

Victoria Memorial

Victory statue on the Queen Victoria Memorial

‘Victory’
Standing 25 meters (82 feet) high and made of 2,300 tons of gleaming white marble, the Victoria Memorial pays homage to Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901.The memorial was designed by Sir Aston Webb, an English architect also responsible for the main facade of Buckingham Palace. The large statues were sculpted by Sir Thomas Brock. The memorial was unveiled in 1911, one decade after Queen Victoria’s death. The memorial was only completed much later, in 1924, when the last sculptures were added.

Central Monument

Victoria, of course, was the reason for the monument, but there’s much more to see than just the queen, who faces eastward away from Buckingham Palace with the words “Victoria, Regina Imperatrix” (Victoria, Queen and Emperor) placed below her.On the north side of the monument you’ll find the Angel of Justice and on the opposite side, the Angel of Truth. On the western side, looking towards Buckingham Palace, is a statue of Charity. All of that is topped off with a gilded statue of Victory, sitting atop the pinnacle with a seated figure on either side, representing Courage and Constancy.

Queen Victoria Memorial, London

Just above the steps to the surround, you’ll find ships’ prows, which were placed there in reference to Britain’s place as a major nautical power.

Surrounding statues

Other sea-related creatures can be found on the reliefs on the outside surface of the enclosing wall, including mermaids, mermen, and other sea creatures.

Lion Statue on the Queen Victoria Memorial in London

Also on the enclosing wall are groups of bronzes. The bronze groups on the east are symbolical of Peace and Progress and, on the west, of Industry and Agriculture. Down the steps leading to the ground level, you’ll find two sets of wonderful majestic lion sculptures. One set is said to have been a gift from the people of New Zealand.

Londoners sometimes refer to the Victoria Memorial as “the wedding cake” monument because of its tiered shape.

Millennium Bridge London Millennium Footbridge….

Originally opened in June 2000 then closed almost immediately due to structural problems, London’s modern Millennium Bridge is now a favorite with locals and tourists alike.

A New Bridge

Millennium Bridge, London

Millennium Bridge with the dome
of the St. Paul’s Cathedral
in the background
London’s Southwark Council sponsored a competition in 1996 to choose the designer of a new Millennium Footbridge that would span the Thames River between the Southwark Bridge and the Blackfriars Bridge. This would be the first bridge built across the Thames River since the building of the magnificentTower Bridge in 1894 and was to be a part of the city’s millennium celebration.

 

The Design

The winning entry, a suspension bridge, was tagged “the blade of light” and was designed by Arup, Foster and Partners and Sir Anthony Caro.

View of the St. Paul's Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge in London

This footbridge would stretch a total of 325 meters (about 1,066 feet) and would include supporting cables below the deck level in order to preserve the view of several landmarks on either side. The design allowed for a four-meter-wide (13.5 feet) deck for walkers and the structure was designed to hold five thousand pedestrians at any given time.

 

Construction

Construction of the bridge began in late 1998 and was completed in June 2000, about two months behind schedule. The total cost to build the bridge was £18.2m or about €30 million (at the time 1 euro was approx. 1 US dollar).

 

Location

The Millennium Bridge connects two tourist areas across the Thames river. The southern end of the gently swooping suspension bridge is located near the new Globe Theater and the Tate Modern Museum. The northern end sits near London’s imposing St. Paul’s Cathedral. Pedestrians can gain a wonderful view of the cathedral’s dome from the bridge and the sight is especially marvelous at night. The Tower Bridge, London’s most famous bridge, and the Shard, the city’s tallest building, are also clearly visible from here.

 

The Wobbly Bridge

Millennium Bridge, London
Unfortunately, during the first two days that the structure was open, the thousands that crossed it noticed that the Millennium Bridge seemed to wobble. It was quickly nicknamed “The Wobbly Bridge” or “The Wibbly-Wobbly” and was immediately closed for modifications, just three days after it opened.Modifications succeeded in entirely eliminating the problem, but those necessary modifications caused the bridge to remain closed until February 2002. It cost an additional £5m to complete the changes, but no significant vibrations have been felt since that time.

 

O2 Arena Millennium Dome / North Greenwich Arena….

The O2 Arena was built at the end of the twentieth century as an exhibition hall to celebrate the start of the new millennium. Today the futuristic looking arena is one of the world’s premier concert venues.

History

Millennium Dome (O2), London

O2 Arena
In 1994, the Chairman of what would later become the New Millennium Experience Company suggested a national exhibition to be held as part of the country’s millennium celebrations. The project, to be funded mainly by the National Lottery, was revised when Tony Blair became the new Prime Minister in 1997.He declared that the exhibition, to be held in Greenwich, would open a window on the future. The focus would be on entertainment and education (also dubbed ‘edutainment’). This resulted in fourteen themed zones, including Faith, Talk, Mind, Rest, Home Planet, Body and Learning.

 

Aerial view of the O2 Arena in London

The O2 Arena seen from the air

The Millennium Exhibition

The project was controversial from the start. The Millennium Dome, a large domed structure that was built on the meridian in Greenwich to house the exhibition had an estimated cost of £750 million and was disliked by many Londoners, who did not see it as a proper symbol for their city.Due to the focus on education and the high entrance fee, the Dome did not attract as many visitors as originally forecasted: a total of seven million people visited the exposition,

The Millennium Dome, now O2, in London

compared to the original estimate of twelve million visitors. Even with each of the separate themes in the Dome sponsored by major corporations, the project had a serious budget deficit. The millennium exhibition ran until the end of 2000.

 

O2

In 2005 the Millennium Dome was renamed O2, after the mobile phone company. At the same time it was converted into a multifunctional entertainment complex. The arena now hosts many different events, including exhbitions and concerts. At its center is a large concert hall with a capacity of 20,000 people. Several other halls include areas for more intimate concerts, cinemas and exhibitions.

 

The Dome’s Structure

Millennium Dome, London
The cover of the Dome is made of PTFE-coated glass fiber, which has an estimated minimum lifetime of 25 years. The structure, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership has a diameter of 365 meters (1200ft) and reaches a height of 52 meters at its center. It is twice the size of the original Wembley Stadium. The structure is expected to last until 2018. After that year, developers are allowed to demolish the dome and redevelop the site.

 

Location

The arena, located near the Thames across Canary Wharf, can be reached via the Jubilee line. The underground station is one of the largest in Europe.

Shard….

The Shard is a modern glass skyscraper in London. At the time of its completion in 2012 it was Europe’s tallest building. The observatory on the 72nd floor offers some spectacular 360 degree views of the city.
The Shard, London

The Shard

The tip of the Shard, London

The tip of the Shard

The Shard seen from the Tower Bridge

View from the
Tower Bridge
The skyscraper is situated in the London Bridge Quarter in Southwark, a neighborhood along the south bank of the river Thames. It is right near the heart of London and only the river separates it from the City of London. The area is full of history: a bridge was built here by the Romans around 50 AD and in 1836 London’s first railway station opened here.

 

Construction

The idea to build a supertall skyscraper in the London Bridge Quarter was first mooted at the end of the twentieth century. The building would replace the Southwark Towers, a one hundred meters tall high-rise complex built in 1976. The site seemed ideal: it is only a couple minutes’ walk from London’s financial center across the London Bridge and the site is right smack near the London Bridge Station, a transport hub connected to both the railway network and the underground.Plans for the new skyscraper were initially drawn up by the architectural firm of Broadway Malyan, and called for a circular 365 meters tall tower. These plans were soon scaled back and a new design was submitted, this time from the hands of the Italian architect Renzo Piano. The renowned architect designed a glass pyramid-shaped structure with a height of just over three hundred meters.

The plans for the London Bridge Tower – as the building was initially called – caused an outcry from preservationists who considered the glass tower inappropriate for a historic neighborhood with mostly low-rise brick buildings. They claimed the tower would cut through the neighborhood like a shard of glass. The name ‘shard’ stuck and the developers even renamed the tower ‘The Shard’.

In 2008 the Southwark Towers were demolished and construction of the Shard started one year later. The tower topped out in 2012 and opened in early 2013.

 

The Building

The base of the Shard in London

The base

The Shard in London at night

The Shard at night
When it was completed the Shard held the title of Europe’s tallest skyscraper with a height of almost 310 meters (1016 ft). Only a couple of months later it was narrowly surpassed in height by Moscow’s Mercury City Tower. The Shard towers over the neighborhood and is visible from afar. The iconic skyscraper looks particularly spectacular at night when seen from across the river.The tapered tower has a glass facade consisting of some eleven thousand window panes. The seemingly unfinished spire is designed to act as a radiator to naturally dissipate excess heat, thus reducing the need for air-conditioning. The building is multifunctional, with offices and a hotel at the lower floors and residential apartments on the upper floors.

 

Observation Deck

The top floors of the Shard are home to the ‘View from the Shard’, an observation deck that offers visitors spectacular 360 degree views of the city. On a clear day you can see as far as sixty kilometers (approx. forty miles).At a height of 245 meters (804 ft), this is the highest public viewing gallery in London, almost twice as high as the London Eye.

National Gallery….

The National Gallery is one of London’s most important museums. It has an impressive collection of paintings covering the period between 1260 and 1900, with works from virtually all renowned artists of the era.

History

National Gallery, London

National Gallery
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, king George IV realized that many European cities had opened impressive art museums to the public, such as the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Museums in Rome and the Uffizi in Florence.George IV did not want Britain to be left behind so in 1824 he pushed a reluctant government into purchasing the house of the just deceased John Julius Angerstein, a rich Russian banker and art collector. The purchase included a valuable collection of thirty-four paintings with works from renowned artists such as Rembrandt and Rubens. The works were initially displayed in the banker’s residence at Pall Mall.

Detail of the National Gallery

National Gallery

Over the years the collection expanded to one of the most prestigious in Europe. Over 2300 paintings are now on display in the monumental building at Trafalgar Square.

 

The Building

The neoclassical building that now houses the museum was completed in 1838 after a much-criticized design by English architect William Wilkins. It was built at the then still to be developed Trafalgar Square, which had just been cleared.Plans to replace the building were never realized and in 1876 the museum was expanded with a new east wing. In the mid 1980s plans for a new expansion were launched, but the modern design faced so much opposition – most notably from the Prince of Wales

Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London

Sainsbury Wing

Samson and Delilah, National Gallery, London

Samson and Delilah, Rubens

– that it was shelved and replaced with a more conventional building, known as the Sainsbury wing.

 

The Collection

The National Gallery’s collection includes European paintings from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The works are arranged in a more or less chronological order.The museum’s main entrance is at the Sainsbury wing, to the left of the main building, where you’ll find the oldest paintings such as works by Giotto and Jan van Eyck. Late Renaissance works from Titian, Michelangelo and others can also be found in the west wing. Seventeenth-century paintings from Italy, Flanders, Spain and the Netherlands are displayed in the north wing and features works from masters such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Caravaggio. Paintings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are on display in the east wing. Here you’ll find impressionist and post-impressionist works from artists like van Gogh, Seurat and Renoir.

 

More Galleries

London boasts many more interesting galleries. Modern art can be found in Tate Modern and Tate Britain features paintings from British Artists.Adjacent to the

Queen's Gallery, London

Queen’s Gallery

National Gallery is theNational Portrait Gallery, which presents paintings portraying prominent English persons such as Sir Christopher Wren and Churchill. It is the most important museum of its kind.

The Courtauld Gallery, founded by will of the industrialist Samuel Courtauld and located in Somerset House, is an other excellent gallery with paintings from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. Its collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings is particularly strong.

Another noteworthy gallery in London is the Dulwich Picture Gallery, with works by masters such as Van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt and Gainsborough.

The Queen’s Gallery, which has its home at Buckingham Palace, exhibits paintings from the royal collection.

Natural History Museum….

What started as the private collection of a single individual evolved into one of the largest museums of natural history of the world. The museum is housed in a magnificent neo-Romanesque building, designed by Alfred Waterhouse.

History of the Museum

Natural History Museum, London

Natural History
Museum

Inside the Natural History Museum, London

Interior

Window of the Natural History Museum, London

Detail of the facade

Large mammals in the Natural History Museum, London

Large mammals
Originally part of the British Museum, the Museum of Natural History began with a donation to the country of the collection of Sir Hans Sloane in 1753. Sloane, who was a physician, is said to have collected “natural curiosities”.When a second collection by botanist Joseph Banks (who traveled with Captain James Cook) was added to Sloane’s collection, museum curators began to see a need for a separate location for these items.

A competition was held to determine the architect for the new building. The winner was Captain Francis Fowke who, unfortunately, died before he was able to complete his design. The honors then went to Alfred Waterhouse, who designed a German Romanesque structure that is now known as the Waterhouse Building.

The collections were moved to their new home in 1883, but it wasn’t until 1963 that these and additional collections were considered a museum in their own right.

 

Waterhouse Building

Considered one of the best examples of neo-Romanesque architecture in Britain, the Waterhouse Building has become a London landmark. Its high-spired towers soar above much of the skyline and its huge grand facade – inspired by the basalt columns at Fingal’s Cave in western Scotland – is awe inspiring.The most modern Victorian techniques were used for its constuction resulting in an iron and steel framework. The framework is hidden by beautifully decorated terra cotta facades. This structure is famous for its many terra cotta features, and Waterhouse’s use of terra cotta as a building material was groundbreaking in Great Britain.

Don’t forget to look up at the intricately painted ceiling panels in the Central Hall. Decorated with plants from all over the world, these gilded tiles all tell their own story.

 

The Exhibits

The museum’s enormous collection of artifacts and specimen (70 million+) covering life on earth can be overwhelming. The museum is divided into different color-coded zones, each focusing on a specific aspect of life on earth.The collection of dinosaur skeletons is one of the museum’s biggest attractions. There are several life-sized models in the Dinosaur hall and you’ll also encounter the skeleton of a Diplodocus in the central hall.

Natural History Museum, London

Also a favorite with visitors is a hall dedicated to large mammals, including an enormous model of a blue whale and several elephants. Other halls feature exhibitions on reptiles, fish, birds, ‘creepy crawlies’, and ecology.

Another zone of the museum focuses on geology. Here you can see the earth seen from outer space and a simulated earthquake and volcanic eruption. There’s also a large collection of minerals and stones.

 

Globe Theatre Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre….

The Globe Theatre has long been associated with William Shakespeare, who is regarded as the greatest English writer in history. The historic theater was rebuilt at the end of the twentieth century and endeavors to maintain the connection.

The Old Theatre

The original Globe Theatre, built by an

Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

acting company to which William Shakespeare belonged, opened in 1599. Technically, six men owned different shares in the theatre, with the bulk of the property belonging to brothers Richard and Cuthbert Burbage.

Unfortunately, the original Globe Theatre lasted only fourteen years. In 1613, it burnt to the ground during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. The fire was attributed to a theatrical cannon, which misfired and set the thatched roof and wooden timbers aflame.

The theatre was rebuilt the following year, but the Puritans – who didn’t believe in such entertainment – closed it down in 1642. It was destroyed in 1644 to make way for homes and it wasn’t until excavation work was being done in 1989 that the original location of the theatre was finally revealed.

 

The New Globe

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

The reconstructed Globe Theatre in London

The new Globe Theatre, built according to Elizabethan plans, was the brainchild of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. The theatre, as designed by architect Theo Crosby, opened in 1997. It is located on Bankside, about 183 meters (200 yards) from the original site. It was the first building with a thatched roof allowed to be built in London since the Great Fire of 1666.Similar to the original, the stage of the new Globe Theatre extends into a large circular yard, which is surrounded by three tiers of very steep seating. The most expensive seats are covered. All others are exposed, which is why plays are held here only during the summer months. Additional standing room for about 700 is available at a very low cost for those who don’t mind remaining erect during the entire production. (Sitting in the yard is not allowed!) In total, the theatre can accommodate about 1,300 patrons, less than half of the 3,000 or so who could attend productions during Shakespeare’s time.

While designers tried to remain as faithful to the old plans as possible, there are modern differences that are apparent. Lighting is state-of-the-art, sprinklers are ever-present, and there is a lobby and visitor center for guests as well as an expanded backstage area for the actors and technical staff.

Though the Globe Theatre is not open for productions during the winter, tours of the facility are available year-round.