Monday, March 18, 2013

The Sights of London- Museums, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, etc.

I want to give you a flavor of the sights that London offers, which are plentiful. I rate each site on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being an absolute must-see in my subjective mind.

The British Museum
The Rosetta Stone- 
Awesome! The greatest museum I have ever seen, with apologies to the Louvre which I saw as a child. Many many artifacts of ancient civilizations' rest here, from the Egyptian Pharaohs, to the Assyrians, Turks, Persians, and Greeks, the British Museum is the current collective resting place for them all. Compare and contrast these empires of yesteryear.
One of the highlights for me was the Rosetta Stone, from which English linguists were able to decipher the Egyptian Hieroglyphics.
To top it off they have many artifacts from mid-evil Europe to present day, including a collection of time pieces, ancient money, you name it, they have it.  To top it off, entrance is FREE for everyone.

Ancient statue- (actual size)
Must See Scale- 10+

Big Ben and Parliament
Parliament House
Splendid architecture, amazing. You can’t go up Big Ben without the help of a British member of Parliament, I am told, but you can take a tour inside the parliament house.
Big Ben
However, just being able to witness these amazing buildings from the outside is worth the journey, and definitely a must see as long as you are in London.

Must See Scale- 10

Natural History Museum
Fantastic. From dinosaur skeletons to Charles Darwin to gem stones and minerals from around the world, the Natural History Museum is fascinating for all ages. I highly recommend going, and best of all, admission is FREE for all.

The British Natural History Museum- from the outside

Full dinosaur skeleton

Must See Scale: 9.5

check out the T-Rex they brought back to life using Jurassic Park technology

Science Museum
James Watt steam engine propels industry

Should be called the “British” Science Museum as there are large tracts of space devoted to British contrbutions to science, from James Watt, who developed the steam engine, to Alan Turing, who broke the German communication code during World War II and was instrumental in the British prevailing over the Nazis.
Without a doubt I enjoyed it, and it is situated right next to the Natural History Museum and again, admission is FREE.

Must See Scale: 7.5

The War Rooms and Churchill Museum
a poster depicting Churchill
During World War II, Winston Churchill planned and conducted the war against Hitler in top secret offices not far from Buckingham Palace. In them is a history and feel of what it was like to be conduct the planning of the war, including the offices exactly as they were left at the end of the war.
At the end of the tour they have a rather large museum devoted to Churchill, who, even today, is still seen as demi-God in Britain, and it describes his life, numerous triumphs and failures, as well as his policies and outlook.
Cost- 17 GBP (about $26) 

British War office as it was left (including body)

Must see scale- 7  
(I found it super interesting, especially as I was considering writing a script about a WWII spy and I had read about the war rooms, for me it was a must see, however, I understand if the rest of the public might be less inclined to go.)

Westminster Abbey
Tomb of the Unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey
A beautiful medieval church that has become a graveyard of British notables, including kings and queens, various knights of valor, and scientists, including Isaac Newton.
To me it felt slightly macabre being inside, and although it was architecturally fascinating, it didn't match my personal tastes. It’s my opinion your money is better spent elsewhere, but if you enjoy this sort of thing, the interior is quite splendid as well.

Cost- 18 GBP

Must see scale- 4.5

Buckingham Palace
Royal Guard in winter grey- by Buckingham Palace gate

You can only tour the inside from July to October and it will cost you to do so, however, you can still go there and see the changing of the guard, but beware, crowds are extremely heavy to the point that I showed up and quickly left.
monument just outside Buckingham Palace

Must see scale: Incomplete
So, there are some of the main sights of London, a city definitely worth visiting once in your lifetime. However, do yourself a favor and go in the summer, when it might not be cold and foggy.

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