Nigel Dickinson / Alamy
Beatrice Aidin
October 08, 2014

History buffs are spoiled in this ancient city, and my personal history has been shaped by its iconic buildings, too. As a child, I enjoyed singing carols by candlelight on Christmas Eve at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I didn’t know then that the Wren-designed church survived aerial bombardment by the Germans during WWII. Even in adulthood, I am constantly uncovering the stories of my city. Returning from a trip abroad, I relish finding the familiar dome on the city skyline, recalling the thrill I felt on my first visit to the House of Commons. I stood in the cupboard where Emily Wilding Davison—an advocate of votes for women as a means of social reform—hid on the night of the 1911 census. I stood in that small space as an enfranchised woman and felt grateful for her protest. When you visit London, you too will connect personally with the city’s great historic sites, that transcend eras with stories of humanity and heroics. 

St. Paul's Cathedral

Climb up the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral and enter the Whispering Gallery, but keep quiet! Thanks to the unique acoustics, your words can be heard 100 feet away. A further two hundred and seventy one steps into the dome takes you to the Golden Gallery. Your reward? Spectacular panoramic views across the city.  

Houses of Parliament

Step inside the Palace of Westminster and learn about the events and people who have shaped Britain today. Watch live debates in the House of Commons and witness political change in the making, or take an evening guided tour of the art and decorative arts in the House of Lords. 

Churchill War Rooms

When London was under aerial attack during WWII, the British Prime Minister and his government took refuge in this wartime bunker. Explore the underground rooms where Churchill conducted top-secret conversations with Roosevelt. Observe the control center, where everything remains as it was on August 16, 1945, when Germany fell to the Allies.

Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens fans will love this beautifully-restored Georgian terraced house in Bloomsbury, where the author wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. Discover rare books, photographs, and memorabilia documenting the life and work of the celebrated author and social campaigner. For an added treat, attend a Costumed Tour on the third Saturday of the any month. 

Sir John Soane’s Museum

The former home of architect Sir John Soane is one of the quirkiest museums in London. It is stuffed with thousands of curiosities, art, furniture, and antiquities collected by the man who designed the Bank of England. Visit by candlelight between 6 and 9:00 in the evening on the first Tuesday of the month.

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