Big Ben, London

As an icon of the London landscape, Big Ben is an attraction you won’t want to miss. Although many people think of Big Ben as being a clock, the name actually refers to the bell inside the Elizabeth Tower. This tower sits at the north end of the meeting place of the House of Commons, which is officially known as the Palace of Westminster. Constructed in 1859, Elizabeth Tower is one of the world’s largest freestanding clock towers.

Big Ben is sometimes referred to as the great bell. That’s because there are actually several bells located in the top of the tower, and the one affectionately known as Big Ben is by far the largest. This bell is not the original one that was placed inside the clock tower when it was constructed, as the first one cracked when it was being tested. The current Big Ben was then hoisted to the tower’s belfry and was used from July until September 1859 when it too cracked.
Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower, London, England
For a period of time, Big Ben was taken out of commission. It took more than three years to repair this historic bell, during which time manual chimes were implemented instead. Big Ben’s repair involved removing some of the metal from its rim and then adjusting the hammer so it struck in an area that was not cracked. As a result, Big Ben has an unusual chime that can still be noticed today.

While the clock’s face is visible from many parts of the city, viewing Big Ben itself is somewhat more challenging. UK citizens must request a tour through their member of Parliament, and this often takes several months. Those who are approved to visit this iconic structure are escorted by a tour guide as they ascend the flight of 334 stairs to the tower’s belfry.

Those who live outside the United Kingdom do not have to forego a visit to the clock tower, as tours of the tower’s base and surrounding grounds are given on a regular basis. A visit to this legendary structure is one that can’t be matched, so tourists from all parts of the globe should make plans to see Big Ben whenever they are in England or the London area.


Speak Your Mind