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Houses of Parliament

Listed under Monuments & Landmarks in London, United Kingdom.

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An iconic landmark of not just London, but Britain as a whole, the Houses of Parliament are the epicentre of British politics and the backdrop for many of Britain’s defining moments. Although the oldest remaining part of the building dates back from King William II, a building of similar importance has stood on the spot since Saxon times. The most exciting incident in the history of the Houses was when Guy Fawkes plotted to blow them up in 1605 - it’s still commemorated with 5th November celebration fireworks.

In 1834, the building was destroyed by fire, with only Westminster Hall, the Jewel Tower, St. Stephen’s Chapel and the Cloisters surviving. Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin rebuilt Westminster in its Gothic sumptuousness, though the building was hit fourteen times by WWII bombs and had to again undergo extensive restoration.

The tour of the Houses of Parliament is often the basis of a school excursion, one which I took when I was fourteen. The building is very traditional and the power that works within the building is quite apparent, with the House of Commons spouting a particularly potent awe. Tours for overseas visitors are available in the two months when Parliament is in recess, but a visit any time of the year will leave an impression, especially with Big Ben towering above you and the area around Parliament Square is always a hive of activity for journalists and politicians.

Written by  John Johnston.

Other expert and press reviews

“Free to climb”

By: Jane Knight and Caroline Hendrie for The Times First Published: 28th March 2009 It's free to climb the 334 steps to the belfry of Big Ben in time to hear the 200kg hammer strike the hour. However, to do it, and to learn how they keep the clock so a… Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Big Ben- House of Commons

Parliament is the most recognizable British icon in the country. The interior is just as beautiful as the gold exterior. Inside the building, while on a tour, you can explore the Houses of Parliament, House of Lords and Westminster Hall. You can notice the difference between the two based on the furniture inside these areas. In House of Parliament the chairs are all green while in the House of Lords the chairs are all red. While you are on tour you may not sit in these seats which is interesting. You will also be led through the halls of this beautiful palace. You will see areas where the queen has sat, walked through and met with ambassadors from all over the world. You will also see famous halls from newscasts where debates and speeches are held.

Inside the Parliament are many gorgeous halls and rooms filled with paintings. Paintings line the walls of famous kings and queens from the past, the Tudors, the Spanish Armada and various others. Some of the walls are lined with gold paint and beautiful emblems of Parliament, such as the Tudor rose and the Parliament logo, the Portcullis.

Parliament is worth visiting if you are staying or visiting in London. Seeing Big Ben outside might be enough for some people but the inside is just as intricate and fascinating.

Houses of Parliament

One of the great English landmarks, this building has become famous under a name other than its own. Most people recognize the building as the seat of English government, although few know it by its proper name, The Palace of Westminster, and no royal family has lived here since 1512 when fire forced Henry VIII to move to Whitehall. This Gothic Revival building was built after fire destroyed the palace in 1834. Inside there are hallways covered with amazing frescoes commissioned by Prince Albert. No monarch has been allowed in since 1642 when the King tried to have some Members of Parliament arrested. Westminster Palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

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