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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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Marlin Waterloo €114
Marlin Waterloo

Marlin Waterloo

111 Westminster Bridge Road, London
     
    4.4
    of 5, from 404 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    This aparthotel is located in London (Lambeth), close to Imperial War Museum, London Dungeon and Big Ben. Also nearby are Sea Life London Aquarium and Coca-Cola London Eye.

    The Grosvenor Hotel €118
    The Grosvenor Hotel

    The Grosvenor Hotel

    101 Buckingham Palace Road, London
       
      4.2
      of 5, from 1,267 reviews
      4.0 out of 5.0

      Located in Belgravia, 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).

      Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London €151
      Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

      Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

      200 Westminster Bridge Road, London
         
        4.4
        of 5, from 9,198 reviews
        4.0 out of 5.0

        This family-friendly London hotel is located in the historical district, just steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. St. Thomas' Hospital and Sea Life London Aquarium are also within 5 minutes.

        Park Plaza London Riverbank €111
        Park Plaza London Riverbank

        Park Plaza London Riverbank

        18 Albert Embankment, London
           
          4.2
          of 5, from 3,082 reviews
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Located in Kennington, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tate Britain, The Oval and Houses of Parliament. Big Ben and London Dungeon are also within 1 mile (2 km).

          Mondrian London €155
          Mondrian London

          Mondrian London

          20 Upper Ground, London
             
            4.7
            of 5, from 1,075 reviews
            5.0 out of 5.0

            Located in Lambeth, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Royal National Theatre, Tate Modern, and Southbank Centre. St. Paul's Cathedral and London Dungeon are also within 15 minutes.

            The Strand Palace Hotel €131
            The Strand Palace Hotel

            The Strand Palace Hotel

            372 The Strand, London
               
              4.0
              of 5, from 8,835 reviews
              4.0 out of 5.0

              Located in City of Westminster, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Covent Garden Market and King's College London. Royal Opera House and London Coliseum are also within 10 minutes.

              DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster €132
              DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster

              DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - Westminster

              30 John Islip Street, London
                 
                4.3
                of 5, from 3,108 reviews
                4.0 out of 5.0

                Located in City of Westminster, 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.

                St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London €133
                St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

                St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

                54 Buckingham Gate, London
                   
                  4.4
                  of 5, from 2,041 reviews
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  Located in City of Westminster, this spa hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Buckingham Palace, Victoria Palace Theatre, and St. James Park. Big Ben and Westminster Abbey are also within 15 minutes.