Ancient, enticing and shrouded in mystery, the City of London is located in the very heart of London… And is the precise location where the entire capital city began. After all, it’s here, in this very spot, that the Romans first built the baths, houses, and forts over 2000 years ago. This small collection of buildings (of which some remain to this day), would one day lead to the capital city we all know and love. So here’s a city of London neighbourhood guide! Included, you’ll find a complete guide of things to do in the very middle of the city; including where to eat, what to see, and where to go.
Millennium Bridge is the gateway to the City of London and a portal into London’s past. Featured in the Harry Potter films, the Millenium Bridge is a typical example of modern London architecture meets old. Set against the backdrop of St Paul’s Cathedral, no trip to London (or indeed, no City of London Neighbourhood Guide) would be complete without a wander along this bridge! And, as the name suggests, the bridge was officially opened on the 10th June 2000 to welcome in the new Millennium. Since then, it has welcomed thousands of pedestrians on a daily basis.
Monument to the Great Fire of London
Just outside of Monument Tube Station, you’ll find the memorial for which it was named. The Monument to the Great Fire of London is located in the very middle of Paternoster Square. Here, you can climb to the top of its 202-foot column for under a fiver (£5) and get some of the best panoramic views over the city that all of London has to offer. It’s said that if you were to lie the column down, the tower would reach the very spot where the fire supposedly started, in Pudding Lane.
As the highest green space in London, the Sky Garden (located at the top of the Walkie Talkie Building) makes for the perfect place to enjoy a coffee. (Or a glass of wine depending on the time of day!) Overlooking the Thames, from here you can garne360-degree view of the city… all for free! Book in advance to secure tickets and ensure that you get access to one of the best views of London the city has to offer. After all, there’s no better way to view a city than from a bird’s eye perspective.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is iconic Christopher Wren architecture at its best and has dominated the London skyline for over 300 years. Once the tallest building in London, it’s a ‘must see’ attraction in central London, both for its interior and exterior. Crowned with pineapples (which were once a symbol for the height of opulence due to their exorbitant cost), the famous Cathedral is well worth a look, if only to take a quick snap.
Guildhall Galleries and Great Hall
Free to visit and filled with priceless artworks, it’s here in the Guildhall Galleries that you’ll find treasures by artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edwin Landseer, and even a John Constable masterpiece. Established in 1886, the Guildhall Galleries are open seven days a week, free to visit.
They feature a large array of paintings, particularly focusing on Victorian and Pre Raphaelite works. In an adjacent building, the Great Hall is also free to visit. This medieval building dates all the way back to 1411 and is a great glimpse of London’s rich history.
Guildhall, London, 1809 via Wikimedia
‘Londinium’, a city that was destined to become known as ‘London’ was founded by the Romans and the ruins of these ancient foundations can be seen to this day. Accessed via the Guildhall, one of the more impressive Roman remains still in London is that of the Roman Amphitheatre. Open seven days a week, this underground cavern offers a glimpse into a different side of London.
Once lost for generations, the amphitheatre was only rediscovered by archaeologists in 1988 following years of research. It’s thought that the theatre dates all the way back to AD70 and could hold up to 7000 people at capacity.
Roman Amphitheatre, London, via Wikimedia
As the most famous of all of London’s bridges, no iconic viewpoint of the city would be complete without those two famous towers peeking out above the horizon. You can visit Tower Bridge almost every day to get a different perspective of the city (though entry fees are charged). Once there, you’ll find that there are plenty of interactive exhibitions detailing the history of the bridge, as well as London in general.
Tower of London
Once used as one of the most ruthless prisons in England, today the Tower of London is a tourist destination, attracting visitors from far and wide. Located in a prominent position overlooking the Thames, you can’t miss it on any stroll along the river.
Founded during the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, much of the current buildings were constructed in the 1190s. Throughout the centuries, the Tower of London has played a vital role in the control of the British Isles. For most of its existence, whoever was in control of the Tower was able to wield great control over the nation. Today, the Tower houses the coveted Crown Jewels and is a stark reminder that London’s history has not always been so peaceful.
Museum of London
Free to visit, and full of quirky exhibits, the Museum of London is probably one of my favourite museums in all of London. Here, you can learn all about the history of the city in fun exhibitions. Right from its beginnings as pre historic farmland, to the Romans, to the present day, everything is presented in great detail.
Museum of London, via Wikimedia
Where to Eat and Drink
Of course, no City of London neighbourhood guide would be complete without a mention of the wide variety of food and drinks on offer:
City of London Food and Drink Address Book:
Sky Garden: 20 Fenchurch St. Enjoy a coffee (and maybe even a slice of cake) at one of London’s highest bars. The Sky Garden makes the perfect place to enjoy a latté, all the while admiring the view. Please remember that tickets, although free, must be booked online in advance!
Curator’s Coffee Studio: 9a Cullum Street. Easily one of the best spots in the capital to grab a coffee, the Curator’s Coffee Studio is a caffeine lover’s paradise. There’s also a large selection of homemade cakes on offer.
Ye Old Chesire Cheese:145 Fleet St. This pub is worth a visit, if only to verify that its name is really real (yes, this is the pub’s genuine name!) Rebuilt following the Great Fire of London in 1667, the pub has been welcoming visitors ever since.
Duck and Waffle: 110 Bishopsgate. Open 24 hours a day, the bar and restaurant offers breathtaking views over the city and a gorgeous selection of food. And for the non meat eaters (like me) don’t be fooled by the name- there are plenty non meat options on the menu!