London Sights to See - Whitehall
To many the sound of the name of Whitehall automatically evokes the image of the British Government.
Indeed, the Houses of
Parliament are at one end of the road running north from Parliament Square.
But there's much more along this major London artery than the Palace of Westminster,
home to the House of
Commons and the House
The name of this famous London street derives from the original Palace of Whitehall,
home to royalty and its ministers for centuries until destroyed by fire
in 1698. Fortunately for today's visitors The Banqueting House,
completed in 1622, survived.
Still used today for official receptions, the 17th century building is
a remarkable work of art inside and out. One of the most outstanding
examples of Italian
Renaissance Architecture in London, the view from the
street is spectacular.
As spectacular as the exterior may be, the interior is no less worth a
visit by the London visitor. Inside, there are dozens of paintings,
decorative items and furniture from the period and later. Visitors can
also enjoy lunchtime concerts of classical baroque
while they dine.
Nearby are the beautiful Whitehall
Gardens. Hosting several memorial sculptures, including
one of the famous Gordon of Khartoum,
the setting is a pleasant oasis within bustling London. Parts of the
destroyed Palace of Whitehall can still be seen, including the wine cellars.
Further along can be found; The
Admiralty, the Ministry
of Defence building and Horse Guards Parade.
Be sure not to miss the two mounted Horse Guards, bedecked in colorful
uniforms capped by plumed helmets. If you are lucky enough to be
visiting in June, be sure to arrive in time to see the "Trooping the Colour"
ceremony held to celebrate the Queen's
Continuing the military theme, Trafalgar
Square merits a visit where you can see the statue of Lord Nelson in the
plaza built to honor his victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
At least, you could if it weren't atop a column 53m (174 ft) high.
Fortunately, you won't need binoculars to get a good look at the four
bronze lions at the base. Designed by the renowned Sir Edwin Landseer,
the large sculptures constitute some of his best work.
There are several other outdoor sights, including the Cenotaph. Designed
to commemorate the fallen of WWI, the empty tomb is the site of a Royal ceremony held in November to honor them.
A recent addition to Whitehall is the excellent Churchill Museum. Used by the famed statesman during WWII to house war planning activity,
the Cabinet War Rooms and other areas have been completely restored to the period.
Visitors to the museum can see Churchill's private living quarters within the War Rooms and there are dozens of memorabilia about. The
£13.5 million ($24 million) Churchill Project
has accurately depicted the scenes the British leader and his aides would have seen and lived with.
At the end, Whitehall becomes Parliament
Street. Visitors can see Big Ben
and (by prior arrangement) view debates from the public galleries of
the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Tours are available for two
months during the summer when Parliament is out of session, or "not
sitting", as the British say.
Whitehall is easy to reach via the Tube (the London Underground, i.e. subway). Exit at Westminster
to start your tour of this historic street.
More Sights to See in London
How to Fly Cheap
Cities of the World