London is one of the biggest and most important cities in Europe, especially due to its key characters and buildings. Founded by the Romans in the year 40, the city expanded its territory embracing small towns which incorporated to the huge metropolis. Home to the Industrial Revolution and the most powerful fleet of its time, London has always played an important role in chief historical events, such as world wars or the profitable imperialist expansion. At present, the city has a 1,579 km2 and a population of around a million and a half people, according to the last 2004 census. During the last decade, London underwent a growth in population similar to the whole city of Leeds. Curiously enough, low social classes coexist with high society within the same city, they are only divided by a couple of streets.
London is a unique and vibrant place to live, work, visit and do business. It is the financial, commercial and cultural capital of Europe, apart form being the main source of income for the English economy. During the last decade, the capital has registered a record economic growth. However, as the population growth is so fluid and constant a huge budget has to be allocated in public transport, the commercial sector and, residential and industrial places.
London in Figures
Year after year, London hosts immigrants from all over the world. 30% of the population belongs to ethnic minorities. There are around 50 communities of over 10,000 people.
30% of London’s surface is occupied by open spaces. There are 147 parks in the city, eight of which are considered “Royal”.
London has the greatest amount of tourist attractions in England. In 2004, London had the 10 best paid attractions in addition to 8 out of 10 free tourist places.
At present, there are four humanity’s heritages in London and 17 museums in the capital surroundings.
London has over 150 theatres, 50 of which are in the West End. Theatre fees in the Capital represent 45% of the sales in the whole country.
London has 3,800 pubs, that is 9% of the bars round all England. There are 233 discos, that is 15% round the country. Westminster area alone, has more than 330 places open after midnight.
Leicester Square cinema complex, displayed 42 world premiere films, this year.
There are 6,128 restaurants in the city, which include menus from over 50 countries. They represent the 22% of all restaurants round the United Kingdom.
London has more than 40,000 stores and some 80 shoppings, including Walthamstow market, the largest in Europe. In the Capital there are even 10 farm direct markets.
There are almost 21,000 cabs in London. Traditional “black cabs” are indeed of 12 different colours.
Map of London.
London extends along the banks of the river Thames, some 100 km over the North sea estuary. The city centre, where the most well known sites are located, lies in the north bank. The original settlement which gave London its name, is now called the “City”. Saint Paul’s Cathedral, one of the many antique churches to visit, stands in the west end of this neigbourhood, while the Tower of London, is in the south east, next to its borders.
In the northwest you can find Bloomsbury,
A place traditionally visited by renowned intellectuals and men of letters, such as William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, or Charles Dickens, thanks to its proximity to London University and to the British Museum, famous for its historical library.
The West End comprises a vast area within the center of London and it is located in the West of the City, where the most well known theatres and commercial sectors are. Moving southwards, governmental centers can be found: Whitehall, the Parliamentary building (officially known as Westminster Palace), Saint James’s Palace, home to the prince of Wales, and Buckingham Palace, where the notorious British Royal Family lives. As well as Hyde Park, the biggest park in London and one of the major parks within the United Kingdom.
London, is clearly huge and it bears very many tourist areas, reason why many times the tube is the best choice to visit every corner. However, it will most probably make us lose part of the geographical and architectonic traits of the city.
Many buildings preserve their traditional features and keep an air of renaissance town, thus turning the city into an old postcard in certain areas. Other parts, though, with predominantly huge buildings will help us remember we are in a big metropolis.
Tip: when doing a visit it is important to plan ahead what we want to see, so as not to return. The tube is expensive, and on top of that, it is not worth wasting time in London.
It is advisable to know the closing time of museums and every place we want to visit.
Recognized as the cradle of very many music talents (Led Zepelli, Pink Floyd, or Eric Clapton, just to mention some) and most sports, the city of London is characterized for being a tourist centre all round the year, despite the fact that the climate is rather variable, and a soft and highly humid climate prevails. Winter is cold and it rains quite often, while spring is fresh and a little windy. During July and August the summer is really hot, and it is the best moment to visit London. Autumn is often warm and rainy. In London, though there are no extreme temperatures, humidity, may provide a sense of temperature different from the real one. Even snow may appear in the crudest stage of winter. As usual, during high season prices rise and the number of tourists double, reason why many places become extremely crowded.
“London is a roof for every bird”
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