Sights of London
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Tower Bridge has stood over the River Thames in London since 1894 and is one of the finest, most recognisable bridges in the world. It is the London bridge you tend to see in movies and on advertising literature for London. Tower Bridge is the only Thames bridge which can be raised. Its middle section can be raised to permit large vessels to pass the Tower Bridge. Massive engines raise the bridge sections, which weigh about 1000 tons each, in just over a minute. It used to be raised about 50 times a day, but nowadays it is only raised 4 to 5 times a week. Tower Bridge is 60 meters long with towers that rise to a height of 43 meters. London Bridge is between the City of London and Southwark, it is between Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge. London’s original bridge made this one of the most famous bridge in the world.
The first London Bridge is thought to have been built by the Romans sometime in the first century, with several rebuilds over the centuries. Eventually wooden bridges were replaced with stone bridges, the first one being started in 1176 and finished years later.
Throughout its history, London bridge has been a busy thoroughfare, and was once lined with shops. The road over the bridge was only about 4m wide between the shops. It was so narrow it often jammed with people, horses and carts. In 1733 a ‘keep left’ rule was enforced to keep the traffic moving. This became the rule of the road in Britain.
In 1757 the houses and shops on the bridge were demolished. A new bridge was built in 1831 to replace the old one. This in turn was demolished in 1967 and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, USA, as a tourist attraction. The present London bridge opened in 1973.
This is one of the nerve-centres of London. It was named Trafalgar Square to commemorate the historical naval victory won on the 21st of October 1805 by the British fleet under the command of Horatio Nelson over the combined French-Spanish fleet commanded by Villeneuve. The battle took place at Cape Trafalgar in the mouth of the Straits of Gibraltar and lasted several hours. Nelson was fatally wounded by a shot which broke his backbone. He died on board his flagship the Victory, but not before being told that he had won the battle.
Nelson's Column, with the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson on top, rises in the centre of Trafalgar Square. This most impressive monument is 170 feet (about 52 m) tall. The statue of Nelson, placed facing towards the sea he loved, measures 17 feet (more than 5 m) in height.
To the north-east of Trafalgar Square there is the building that houses the National Gallery of Art - one of the most important Art Galleries in the world - and behind is the National Portrait Gallery.
Quite often the square becomes the location for meetings and in it crowds of Londoners congregate to celebrate political rallies. So it can be said that Trafalgar Square is the heart from which the beat is emitted to all the Londoners.
There are many pigeons in the square and Londoners like to feed them. Everybody knows that the dove is the symbol of peace all over the world.
Madam Tussaud's is the most popular and talked about wax museum in the world. There are wax models of the famous and infamous, both living and dead, from every walk of life.
Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monro, Michael Jackson, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, the British Royal family, Bill Clinton, Jack the Ripper... There is no other place where you can see all the celebrities at once, even if they are only wax figures. So if you want to rub shoulders with kings and queens or the latest pop stars, or probably with notorious criminals, this is the place to go.
The museum is situated in Marylebone Road, not far from the street which is famous as the home of the first great detective in fiction, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
There's usually a long queue in front of the museum. No wonder! Many tourists would consider their trip to London worthless if they didn't visit the famous Madam Tussaud's. There are several halls at Madam Tussaud's. Highlights include the Grand Hall, the Chamber of Horrors and "The Spirit of London" exhibition.
The wax figures are standing and sitting, and sometimes even moving and talking. They are extremely realistic and when they look at you, their eyes sparkling, you often feel uncomfortable in their company. Computer controlled figures (they are called audioanimatronics) are especially popular with the visitors.
New models are being produced all the time while the old ones are quietly removed from display. Over the years hundreds of celebrities have made their way to Madame Tussaud's studio. Most people agree to be portrayed, but some refuse. Mother Teresa was one of the few who declined, saying her work was important, not her person.