London's Crown Jewels

On my journey through seven European countries in two weeks, I fell in love with London so much that I want to go back. I plan to study abroad there next summer (2009).
Here are some of London's highlights:

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey was the most giant cathedral I have ever seen in my life. It could take days to walk through all of the nooks and side chapels and fully experience everything around you!

Westminster serves as the official coronation church of England, complete with the historical coronation chair. It has been the coronation site for every English monarch since 1066, including Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Victoria and the current queen, Elizabeth II.

Thousands of people are buried at Westminster Abbey. Their final resting places range from fancy tombs to the graves beneath the floor tiles. Some of the more famous grave names include Newton, Dickens, Darwin, Kipling, Tennyson, Handel, Halley, and Longfellow.
Westminster Abbey also made an appearance in the movie The Da Vinci Code.

Lion King on the West End

The West End is London's famous theatre district. As the British equivalent of New York's Broadway, the West End is currently home to such hits as Avenue Q, Monty Python's Spamalot, Les Miserables, Chicago, Hairspray, Carousel, Jersey Boys, and Mamma Mia!

During my visit to London, I enjoyed a thrilling production of Disney's The Lion King. After seeing the movie so many times, I was quite pleased by the British-accents during "Hakuna Matata." Seeing this show was one of the highlights of my entire European vacation. No visit to London would be complete without a taste of the quality theatre found at the West End.

Some classic London shows, including Shakespeare's Hamlet and Agatha Christie's The Moustrap are also playing.

National Gallery

The National Gallery houses some of the greatest pieces of art in the world. Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, and Botticelli are just a few of the famous exhibits at London's National Gallery. My personal favorite pieces include Van Gogh's "Sunflowers," Monet's "Water Lily Pond," and Degas' "Ballet Dancers."

Tower of London

The name Tower of London is misleading. It is not simply one tower that holds a few captives. It is a giant fortress with multiple towers, a palace, a chapel, and space to house large numbers of prisoners. Three of Henry VIII's queens were executed on the Tower Green: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey. The guards for the Tower of London are called Beefeaters. Their main job is to give free tours and share the highlights of the Tower with visitors.

Covent Gardens

Covent Garden, like the Tower, is also inaptly named. More of a shopping market than a green garden, its treasures are nonetheless a must-see in London. From fancy jewelry to sidewalk artists, Covent Garden has a wide variety of classic London souveniers. The street performers were even more diverse, ranging from dancers to string quartets to mimes.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the official home of the British monarchs. The famous nonmoving guards are stationed at the perimeter. Visits are best scheduled around the Changing of the Guard. If the queen is home, her royal flag will be flying on the pole at the top of the palace.

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Copyright © 2008 Kelsi Krieger

Please e-mail me with any questions or feedback at kak830@ufl.edu!