Visit Big Ben in London, England before you die….you won’t regret it! London is a bustling city full of culture and suprisingly, delicious international cuisine. Whether you enjoy theater, shopping, or sight seeing, it is all here. Today’s focus is viewing Big Ben and getting some great shots of this remarkable building to take back home, but first a little history.
Big Ben is the nickname of the huge bell housed inside the clock tower located at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. The original Palace of Westminster burned down in 1834 and in 1844 the new Houses of Parliament were built and it was decided to include a clock and tower in the new design. Hooray!!!! This famous bell inside a clock tower was most likely named after Sir Benjamin Hall since he is the man who oversaw the installation of the bell; his name is inscribed inside the bell, as well. Some Londoners say the nickname came from English boxing heavyweight champ, Benjamin Caunt.
Big Ben is a heavyweight too, clocking in at an astonishing 13.5 tons and standing 7 feet tall and 9 feet wide….this clock is one big boy! The clock tower itself is 316 feet tall, so you are going to need to stand a ways back or bring your ultra wide angle lens to get a nice photo. The photo featured was taken with a Canon 7D.
So, first things first, how do you get there? Big Ben is easily accessible via London’s Tube, click the link to check out a map of the tube stations. I recommend buying an Oyster card for travelling around London as you can preload the card with money before you leave home and travel on various modes of public transport during your London vacation. Plan on visiting Westminster Abbey (located catty corner from Big Ben) and the Houses of Parliament at the same time as Big Ben, since they are neighbors.
Hoping to hear Big Ben chime? He chimes every hour on the hour and there are other bells inside the tower which chime on the quarter hour. Here’s some quirky trivia for you, Big Ben’s chime has a noticeable twang due to a crack sustained shortly after he began operating.
Can I take a tour? Only residents of the UK can ask their MP (member of Parliament) for a tour. So, if you are a permanent UK resident be sure and request a tour, but remember tours can be booked out up to 6 months in advance. Looks like this Yankee won’t be ascending Big Ben anytime soon 😦
My tips are simply to buy an Oyster card, bring your camera, and be sure to bring a waterproof jacket with a hood, in case the weather changes quickly, which it is known to do. I hope you enjoy visiting & photographing London as much as I did! I’ll be posting more pictures and reviews from this trip, so be sure to check back often. As always, feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.
Lastly, great site to view when planning your trip is Visit London, the official city guide.