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Europe’s biggest city - 12 million inhabitants in Greater London -
gets 26 million visitors a year. The great river Thames divides the city
north and south but it’s the M25 which now defines the boundaries of
Greater London – the 2000 sq miles wrapped in its giant coil.
The Romans were responsible for phase one of development– they built the square mile we now know as the City. They followed up with a network of roads all leading to the capital and the first real bridge across the Thames. Ever since, despite the devastating Fire of London in 1666, the Black Death a few years later, or more recently Adolf Hitler’s attempts to stop the city in its tracks, London has just got bigger and ever more prosperous. Now the City’s square mile is one of the World’s major financial centres, responsible for brokering maybe as many as half of the international financial deals going on in the world at any one time. But it’s not all about money – today London is recognised as an International leader in fashion, entertainment and the arts and as an endlessly fascinating destination for any visitor.
Layered in history, its modern attractions are almost too numerous to mention. The City itself, thronged with bankers and stockbrokers, has the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Close by there are opportunities to bag a bargain in Petticoat Lane market, or try Camden Lock near Regents Park or Portobello Road in Notting Hill. But the real shopping Mecca lies in the West End and Knightsbridge where you’ll find the big Department Stores like Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason. If you are hoping to spot the latest fashion trend the Kings Road in Chelsea might be worth a look, and when you are shopped out, why not drop in at a stylish bar or restaurant in Soho, take in a show or watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster in Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square? Or there are plenty of green spaces where you can take a little time out of the hustle and bustle including the Royal Parks, Kew Gardens, and Hampstead Heath.
For culture vultures, London has more than its share of world beating art galleries and museums. The British Museum in Bloomsbury has probably got the most representative collection of artefacts from all the World’s great cultures and ancient civilizations. South Kensington is home to the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the fabulous Victoria and Albert. The South Bank Centre across the river has a fine modern theatre, art gallery, cinema and concert hall. A little further downstream at Bankside, Tate Modern is housed in the former Power Station next to the Globe Theatre , and the Millennium Footbridge will get you back across to the river for Tate Britain, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London Zoo . . . how long have you got?
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