London, its History and Development

It is known that the area around London was inhabited by the Celts. Later the Romans founded a military camp there. The camp developed into a port. The area of about 1 square mile where the Romans built their fortifications corresponds approximately to today present City of London. London was the capital of one of the Roman provinces of Britain. After the Romans left Britain, London became less important and suffered greatly from the Danes and Vikings. It was under Henry the First in the 12th century that London finally became the capital of England. In the 16th century London, with its 500,000 inhabit­ants, was the largest city in England. Under Queen Elizabeth the First in the 17th century England dominated the oceans and be­came the Empire. It is in the Elizabethan Age that art, culture and literature flowered, especially in London. Over the centuries Lon­don became the centre of a constantly growing empire. The em­pire reached its apex under Queen Victoria. In­dustrialization and the expansion of international trade brought London power, growth and cultural and economic development. In the First and Second World Wars London was ruined consider­ably.

Some 9 million people now live in London and its suburbs, and the city covers an area of 620 square miles, making it one of the largest of the world's capitals. One reason for its size is that the English people like to live in small houses and have small gardens. As a result, less than 5,000 people live in the City of London, while more than half a million come here to work in the daytime. Today London is the capital of Great Britain and is also the seat of the Royal Family, the Parliament, the major administrative bodies and scientific institutions.

The Houses of Parliament stand on the bank of the Thames at Westminster Abbey. Actually it is one building but it is called «Houses» as it consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It was set up in the 13-th century. At one end of the Houses of Parliament there is a tower with a large clock. The largest bell, known as Big Ben, chimes in the hour.

Westminster Abbey was a monastery built in the 8th century. It is one of the best examples of the Early English architecture. The kings and queens of England are buried there. Many great states­men, writers and poets are also buried there.

In the centre of London there is one of the most beautiful squares — Trafalgar Square which was named so to commemorate Nelson's victory in the battle of Trafalgar. There is the monument in its centre known as Nelson's Column.

In the vicinity of Trafalgar Square is Whitehall which is now a street of government offices. Not far from Whitehall is Downing Street. Number 10 Downing Street is the residence of the Prime Minister of England. The Cabinet meets there. One must mention the British Museum. It is one of the most extensive and valuable museums in West Europe. It was founded in 1753. It also com­prises the National Library. There are other numerous museums and galleries displaying interesting finds from all farts of the world and from all stages in the development of nature, man and art. There are also two large opera houses, the National Theatre and 50 other theatres. Monuments of past greatness are every­where in London.

© Rudakoff, 2007