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Big Ben

One of London’s most resounding landmarks is a treasured emblem of England.

Catch a glimpse of Big Ben across the River Thames and you’ll know that you have truly arrived in London. Featured in British films, such as “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually”, Big Ben is best viewed from the Thames’ east bank or while strolling along Westminster Bridge, en route to see the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben was the name originally given to the largest of the clock tower’s bells. The Great Bell, as it is otherwise known, weighs 13 tons (13,760 kilograms). Listen for its deep knell as it strikes on the hour, pealing high across the rooftops and rush of London’s traffic. Nowadays, the name Big Ben is synonymous with the bells, the clock and the tower.

Since first sounding in July 1859, the clock’s reliability and reassuring chime have become a national symbol of British resilience. When the sun sets, its four ivory-tinted faces are illuminated so the clock can still be seen from miles away. The faces have only ever been dimmed in times of national crisis: for two years during World War I, to avoid German zeppelin attacks, and at night during World War II to disorient German Blitz pilots.

Completed in 1858, the clock tower was supposedly named after London’s Commissioner of Works, a large man called Benjamin Hall, affectionately known as 'Big Ben'. Designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin in classic Gothic Revivalist style, the brick and limestone tower rests atop Britain’s Houses of Parliament. The clock is the largest four-faced chiming clock in Great Britain. Each face is 23 feet (seven metres) in diameter and contains 312 pieces of opal glass.

Despite its status as a popular landmark, Big Ben only opens its doors to British citizens who can schedule a tour through their parliamentary representatives. Still, this exclusivity won’t stop it from giving you a little rush of excitement the first time that you see and hear it.

In June 2012, Big Ben was officially renamed Elizabeth Tower, in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, but it is still known colloquially as Big Ben.

Big Ben is located in central London. The nearest Underground station is Waterloo.


Guide to Exploring Big Ben


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Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London €173
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

200 Westminster Bridge Road, London
     
    4.4
    of 5, from 10,170 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. St. Thomas' Hospital and Sea Life London Aquarium are also within 5 minutes. Waterloo Underground Station is only a 4-minute walk and Westminster Underground Station is 6 minutes.

    The Grosvenor Hotel €133
    The Grosvenor Hotel

    The Grosvenor Hotel

    101 Buckingham Palace Road, London
       
      4.2
      of 5, from 1,880 reviews
      4.0 out of 5.0

      Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Victoria Palace Theatre, Buckingham Palace and St. James Park. Big Ben and Sloane Square are also within 1 mile (2 km). London Victoria Rail Station is only a 2-minute walk and Victoria Underground Station is 2 minutes.

      The Strand Palace Hotel €121
      The Strand Palace Hotel

      The Strand Palace Hotel

      372 The Strand, London
         
        4.0
        of 5, from 9,422 reviews
        4.0 out of 5.0

        Located in London City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Covent Garden Market and Piccadilly Circus. London Dungeon and Big Ben are also within 1 mi (2 km). Charing Cross Underground Station is 5 minutes by foot and Covent Garden Underground Station is 6 minutes.

        Park Plaza County Hall London €149
        Park Plaza County Hall London

        Park Plaza County Hall London

        1 Addington Street, London
           
          4.4
          of 5, from 4,116 reviews
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. The Vaults and Jubilee Gardens are also within 5 minutes. Lambeth North Underground Station and Waterloo Underground Station are within a 5-minute walk.

          Mondrian London €149
          Mondrian London

          Mondrian London

          20 Upper Ground, London
             
            4.7
            of 5, from 1,378 reviews
            5.0 out of 5.0

            Located in London City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Royal National Theatre, Tate Modern, and Southbank Centre. London Dungeon and St. Paul's Cathedral are also within 15 minutes. Southwark Underground Station is 8 minutes by foot and Blackfriars Underground Station is 9 minutes.

            St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London €190
            St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

            St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

            54 Buckingham Gate, London
               
              4.4
              of 5, from 2,088 reviews
              4.0 out of 5.0

              Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Broadway, Buckingham Palace, and Victoria Palace Theatre. Big Ben and St. James Park are also within 15 minutes. St. James's Park Underground Station is only a 3-minute walk and Victoria Underground Station is 8 minutes.

              DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster €130
              DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster

              DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster

              30 John Islip Street, London
                 
                4.3
                of 5, from 3,232 reviews
                4.0 out of 5.0

                Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tate Britain, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament. Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey are also within 15 minutes. Pimlico Underground Station is 10 minutes by foot and St. James's Park Underground Station is 15 minutes.

                Marlin Waterloo €114
                Marlin Waterloo

                Marlin Waterloo

                111 Westminster Bridge Road, London
                   
                  4.4
                  of 5, from 761 reviews
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  Located in London City Centre, this aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Imperial War Museum, Coca-Cola London Eye and Sea Life London Aquarium. London Dungeon and Big Ben are also within 15 minutes. Lambeth North Underground Station is only a 2-minute walk and Waterloo Underground Station is 9 minutes.