The districts of Pimlico, Westminster and Saint James belong to the City of Westminster, the cradle of British aristocracy and institutions.
It is in this district, the political and cultural heart of the British capital that Buckingham Palace, residence of Queen Elisabeth II, the British Parliament as well as Westminster Abbey, a major religious place where since 1066, kings are found. and queens are crowned.
Thus, to visit the district of Westminster is to travel in the history and to be in the heart of the political power and the monarchical institutions of the United Kingdom.
Built from 1856 to 1862 by engineer Thomas Page, Westminster Bridge spanning the Thames between Westminster and Lambeth is the second on this site.
This 353m long iron bridge is made up of seven ornate arches, certain Gothic ornaments of which are due to Charles Barry who was the architect of the Palace of Westminster. Its dominant color, namely green, refers to the color of the leather seats in the House of Commons.
Address : Westminster Bridge, London SW1A 2JH
Big Ben: the symbol of London
North of the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben stands 96 meters high, one of London's most famous images. The 13,5-ton bell sits atop the Elizabeth Tower, which was named in 2012 on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
If the famous carillon has been ringing every hour for more than 150 years, know that the most beautiful tune is performed at midnight.
Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower tours are only open to UK residents after obtaining a pass from a Member of Parliament or House of Lords (with a wait of at least 6 months) .
However, given the current work, visits are suspended and should resume in 2021. Pending the resumption of these visits, conferences are open for both residents and tourists. They present the history and operation of this famous clock and its iconic tower over an hour.
Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone or directly at the box office.
Address : Westminster, London SW1A 0AA,
Visit the Palace of Westminster: seat of the British Parliament
Le Palace of Westminster is the symbol of the British parliamentary monarchy, with 650 MPs in the House of Commons and 780 Lords in the House of Lords. Heart of British democracy, it is in this palace that parliament sits 35 weeks a year, submits, studies and votes on laws.
During parliamentary and school holidays, the Palace of Westminster is open to the public who can take a self-guided tour with an audio guide or accompanied by a guide. An enriching and informative visit that allows you to better understand the functioning of the parliamentary monarchy.
The visit to the parliament is free for children under 5 years old.
Address : Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
More information for a guided tour More information for a visit with an audio guide
Victoria Tower Gardens
Dominated by the 102,5-meter-high Victoria Tower where the Parliament Archives are located, Victoria Tower Gardens is a public park along the north bank of the Thames.
One can admire there a bronze copy of Rodin's famous group, Les Bourgeois de Calais, which was installed in 1915. Not far away is also a statue of the suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, inaugurated in 1956.
Address : Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 3JA
Parliament Square and its eleven statues
Located in front of the Palace of Westminster, Parliament Square is a garden where eleven bronze statues of famous politicians are erected: Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Peel, Benjamin Disraeli, George Canning, Lord Derby, Lord Palmerston, David Lloyd George, Jan Smuts, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and that of suffragist Millicent Fawcett.
Address : Westminster, London SW1P 3JX
St John's Smith Square : chef d'oeuvre baroque au coeur de Westminster
St John's Smith Square is a former XNUMXth century church destroyed after a bombing in WWII, then restored to serve as a concert hall.
It is both a masterpiece of the English Baroque and one of the best concert halls in London specializing in classical music where performers and performers of international renown perform.
In addition, a restaurant under the vaulted ceiling of the crypt is open for lunch and dinner.
Address : Smith Square, Westminster, London SW1P 3HA
Westminster Abbey: a masterpiece in Gothic style
THEWestminster Abbey is with St Paul's Cathedral, one of the most famous religious buildings in the capital. A place of worship and eternal rest for many illustrious figures, the Abbey is the United Kingdom's equivalent of the Pantheon and Notre-Dame put together.
This royal necropolis is the eternal resting place of over 3300 illustrious people such as Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
Since the coronation of William I in 1066, all kings and queens of England have been crowned at Westminster Abbey. More recently, the building hosted Prince Charles and Diana Spencer as well as Prince William and Kate Middleton; and it is also there that the solemn mass was said on the occasion of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Finally, this masterpiece of Gothic style, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, welcomes more than a million foreign visitors per year.
The visit is included with the London Pass, London Explorer Pass and theiVenture Pass .
The visit to Westminster Abbey is free for children under 6 years old.
Address : 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA
St. Margaret's Church in Westminster
Located within the grounds of Westminster Abbey, St Margaret's Church, erected for the most part by Edward the Confessor, is in a late Perpendicular style.
Members of Parliament, as well as employees of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, are allowed to marry in this church.
Address : St Margaret St, Westminster, London SW1P 3JX
Jewel Tower: a XNUMXth century tower
In the heart of Westminster, Jewel Tower is one of only two buildings in the medieval Palace of Westminster to survive the fire of 1834. It was built in 1365 and 1366 under the direction of William of Sleaford and Henry de Yevele , to house the personal treasure of King Edward III.
Since 2013, the tower has housed an exhibition on its history and its successive uses.
Included in the London Pass.
Address : Abingdon St, Westminster, London SW1P 3JX
Westminster Cathedral: seat of the Catholic Church
Built from 1895 to 1903 by the Victorian architect John Francis Bentley, Westminster Cathedral is built in a Neobyzantine style on the model of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
It is distinguished by its bell tower (82 m) ending in a dome accessible by a lift, which offers a 360 ° view of London as well as of the Saint Paul's cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
Richly decorated with marble, mosaics, statues, and gilding, its 45m nave is the widest in England!
Westminster Cathedral, home of the Catholic Church of Great Britain, is also one of the busiest churches in the UK which regularly hosts concerts and recitals.
Address : Victoria Street, Westminster, London SW1P 1LT
Tate Britain: the world's largest British art museum
La Tate Britain, called Tate Gallery until 2000 is one of the largest museums in London which brings together collections of British art, from the Renaissance to the present day.
The museum brings together the largest and most beautiful collection in the world of British art and more particularly the largest collection in the world of works by William Turner grouped since 1987 in the Clore Gallery. The Tate has more than 300 oils and a very large number of watercolors, drawings and sketches by the famous British painter.
Address : Milbank, London SW1P 4JU
Visit Buckingham Palace: Queen's Residence
Buckingham Palace is the London residence of Queen Elisabeth II and one of the last remaining palaces in the world.
From July to October, Buckingham Palace is open to the public who can walk through the 19 State Rooms designed by Nash.
Among the most beautiful rooms are the throne room where the queen receives during investiture ceremonies, the royal reception room or the ballroom used for official state dinners.
Buckingham Palace is for free for children under 5 years old.
Address : Westminster, London SW1A 1AA
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
La Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (changing of the guard) is one of London's most iconic attractions. People come there on the one hand to see the famous red tunics and bear hair headdresses of the guards. On the other hand, to listen to the fanfare performing a sometimes astonishing musical repertoire!
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace begins at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday et Sunday.
In case of bad weather, the ceremony is canceled.
To be sure that the succession takes place, I advise you to visit the British Army website which gives all the information on this subject.
Victoria Memorial: a monument to the glory of Queen Victoria
Opposite Buckingham Palace, the marble statue commemorates the years of Victoria's reign (1837 to 1901) and the rise of the British Empire at that time.
The monument is crowned by the golden statue of Victory. Below, we can observe the representation of the queen and the allegorical characters of Truth, Justice and Philanthropy, that is to say the traditional Victorian virtues.
Completed in 1911 after the death of the Queen, the Victoria Memorial is the largest royal statue in London
The Queen's Gallery was inaugurated by the Queen in May 2002, as part of the Golden Jubilee festivities. It hosts temporary exhibitions comprising 450 works of art from the vast royal collection according to thematic exhibitions, renewed regularly.
Included in the London Pass.
Address : Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
Royal Mews: The Royal Stables of Buckingham Palace
The Royal mews are the stables of the British royal family where the world's finest collection of coaches is on display. They are still used by the Queen and members of her family during official ceremonies.
Highlight of the collection, the spectacular Gold State Coach (pictured above), completely covered in 22-karat gold leaf which was commissioned in 1760 to celebrate the marriage of King George III and his marriage to Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz .
Royal Mews is also home to a magnificent Jaguar Daimler DS420 from 1992 which was the official vehicle of the Queen Mother.
Included in the London Pass.
Royal Mews is for free for children under 5 years old.
The Guards Museum: a military museum in Westminster
Located in Wellington Barracks, the Guards Museum is a military museum open to the public that presents the history of the five infantry regiments of the British Guard from the XNUMXth century to the present day.
These five regiments are the Coldstream, the Grenadiers, the Scots, the Irishs and the Welshs, made up of elite soldiers who took part in foreign operations and who today ensure the protection of the royal family.
Included in the London Pass
Address : Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ
Churchill War Rooms: Winston Churchill's General Quarter
Churchill War Rooms is the Prime Minister's war cabinet where more than 500 people lived day and night and participated in the war effort. This labyrinth of around thirty rooms allows you to discover the living conditions of the members of the staff.
The most emblematic rooms are the War Room where Winston Churchill assembled his war cabinet, the Transatlantic Telephone Room where the Prime Minister safely contacted American Presidents or the Map Room and Churchill's Room.
This informative and educational visit is ideal for middle and high school students!
Included in the London Pass, London Explorer Pass and theiVenture Pass
Address : Clive Steps, King Charles St, London SW1A 2AQ
From the Greek "empty tomb", the cenotaph is a memorial honoring the British soldiers who gave their lives fighting for their homeland during the two world wars.
Address : Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2ET
10 Downing Street: the Prime Minister's Office
The famous gate, with its distinctive number 10, only opens from the inside. From the outside, no keyhole, only the Prime Minister, his guests and his collaborators have access to the sumptuous interiors.
Downing Street has officially been the residence of all British Prime Ministers since 1735.
Address : 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London SW1A 2AA
Monument to the Women of World War II
Inaugurated in 2005, this unusual monument pays tribute to the women who participated in the war effort during World War II by taking work from their men. It represents their work clothes, which they put back in the closet after the war, allowing men to claim all the merits.
Address : 11 Downing St, Westminster, London SW1A 2AB
Banqueting House where the banqueting house
Unique vestige of Whitehall Palace, Banqueting House is a neoclassical style building that hides inside a little treasure! Indeed, the coffered ceiling of the large village hall is a masterpiece by the Dutch painter Rubens. Commissioned in 1629 by King Charles I, this ceiling is made up of 9 canvases depicting the exploits of Jacques I.
Included with tourist cards London Pass et London City Pass.
Address : Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2ER
Horse Guards: Changing of the Horse Guards
Located on Whitehall, the Horse Guards is a stone's throw from the Prime Minister's Residence -10 Downing Street- and between St James Park and Trafalgar Square.
Less spectacular than the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the changing of the Horse Guards is more fun for children thanks to the presence of the horses. Lasting 30 minutes, it takes place every day at 11:00 a.m. from Monday to Saturday and at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday.
In addition, every day at 16:00 p.m. in the small courtyard behind the horse boxes is held the troop review during which an officer inspects one by one the uniforms of the guards on foot and on horseback.
At the end of this short ceremony lasting between 15 and 20 minutes, the horses are sent to the stables for the night, before resuming service the next morning at 10 a.m.
The Horse Guards also host prestigious events such as The Trooping the Colour, The Major Genral's and Colonel's review, not to mention the famous military music concert: Beating Retreat.
Address : Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, London SW1A 2AX
Household Cavalry Museum: The History of the Royal Cavalry
Household Cavalry is a small museum presenting the history of the Cavalry of the Royal Guard from its origins in 1661 to the present day.
The Household Cavalry is made up of 2 regiments namely the Life Guards and Blues & Royals, considered the most prestigious regiment in the British Army, due to its role as the official bodyguard of the monarch.
During the visit of the old stables, the visitor can try on the uniforms of the Horse Guards made up of breastplates, jackets and helmets and put themselves in the shoes of a rider!
But the little extra is these boxes with glass walls, through which we can observe the guards who prepare their horses to ensure the changing of the guard.
Included in the London Pass.
Address : Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2AX
Guided tour in French in the Westminster district
To discover the secrets of Westminster, take part in the guided tour in French provided by Maxime, which will take you over two and a half hours to reveal the history of the royal and political heart of the United Kingdom.