West End of London

West End London

The West End of London is part of Westminster, a district which occupies about 4 square miles. This is the nerve centre of the nations law making and administration, with Parliament and Government offices.

Old Westminster runs into the modern West End - the shopping centre of Britain, and also with many restaurants, night clubs, cinemas, theatre and hotels

Here are a few of the highlight of Westminster, starting in the south, where it all started with Parliament and the Abbey, and working north eventually to Oxford Street

Houses of Parliament Built between 1840 and 1860 to replace the old palace destroyed by a fire. Big Ben is the name of the large bell that hangs in the clock tower by the Thames
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Westminster Abbey Gothic cathedral dating from the 11th century, though rebuilt by Henry III in 1245. Burial place of kings, site of  modern coronations
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St James Park One of the smaller Royal Parks, flanked on the north side by The Mall, the ceremonial route to Buckingham Palace. A very beautiful park, with wild fowl breeding on the islands in the lake
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Buckingham Palace The home of the Monarch since Queen Victoria, the neo classical facade only dates from 1913
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Hyde Park Corner A vast roundabout and one of London's major reference points, often used by people in giving directions
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Downing Street No 10 has been the home of British Prime Ministers since 1732. George II offered the house to Sir Robert Walpole at that time. And it has remained "in the family" since
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Banqueting Hall Whitehall was named after a Royal Palace, of which nothing remains now except the Banqueting Hall. It was designed by Inigo Jones in 1622, and has wonderful ceilings by Rubens
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St James Palace It is now the London home of the Queen Mother, but was the home of the Monarch until Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace. This is the best place to see guardsmen close up
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Admiralty Arch Separates the Mall from Trafalgar Square. Dates back to the turn on the century when the British navy ruled the waves, and the Admiralty (Navy department) was a very important place
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Trafalgar Square The square, Nelsons column stretching 185 feet into the sky, Landseer's lions, feeding the pigeons, jumping in the fountains, are all part of the British way of life
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National Gallery On the north side of Trafalgar Square, houses one of the world's finest collections of paintings
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Hyde Park Opened to the public by Charles I in 1635, and a popular spot to walk, ride or sun bathe ever since
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Piccadilly Piccadilly is the road that runs from Hyde Park Corner to Piccadilly Circus. It is a major shopping street containing Fortnum & Mason, the Burlington Arcade, and St James church (the only surviving Wren church in the West End)
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Burlington House Home of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and site of many major art exhibitions
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Grosvenor Square A large square dominated by the 1960 American Embassy building
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Soho It is, depending on your viewpoint, cosmopolitan or sleazy. Thousands of French Protestants fled here in 1685 after the Declaration of Nantes. It has retained this hint of diverse cultures since
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Marble Arch Designed by Nash in 1828, it was originally intended as the entrance to Buckingham Palace. It now commands its own traffic island
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Oxford Street The more popular stores are in Oxford Street, in other words the more exclusive stores are elsewhere
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West End of London

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