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A Closer Look at London's Landmarks

Home > London > Outdoor | Photography | Travel
by Tina Maria (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Helsinki, Finland.
Published October 18th 2012
Learn about and appreciate London's landmarks
British Flag
British Flag on top of the Tower Bridge

These iconic landmarks in London are some of my favourites and I am sad to say that I am someone who is guilty of frequently visiting London and only admiring its landmarks from afar and in passing.

I live close enough to spend time in London on a weekly basis and yet it wasn't until recently that I decided to go and specifically visit some of the landmarks which London is famous for.

It is sometimes the case that we procrastinate and take things which are familiar to us for granted. It is refreshing to take a step back (or in this case closer) and look at things differently.

Tower Bridge and Flags
Tower Bridge and Flags

I personally love photography so felt this was a great time to take some landscape photographs and also some more unusual angled ones and close-ups.

You don't have to be a professional photographer to do this, you don't even have to be an amateur, in fact if you aren't into photography then you can leave that part out entirely. Just make sure you 'look' at the places you usually only 'glance' at.

Look at London through the eyes of a tourist, from odd angles and at different times of the day than you usually would (this drastically changes the atmosphere) and try to see it differently. It's fun - I promise.

Here are my top three landmarks to get you started.

The Gherkin

The Gherkin - From a distance
The Gherkin

30 St Mary Axe, also known as 'The Gherkin', is a London landmark built in the centre of the City's financial district.

The Gherkin, designed by Sir Norman Foster, stands at 590 feet tall and although building work began on the skyscraper in 2000, and it was finished in 2003, it wasn't until 28 April 2004 that it was officially opened.

The Gherkin - Close up
The Gherkin - Close up

The Gherkin is a stunning building when it comes to photography as the glass surface of it and the buildings around it reflect the sunlight onto each other like a huge broken mirror.

The Shard

The Shard
The Shard - From a distance

The Shard is situated at London Bridge Quarter and was designed by Renzo Piano, an Italian architect also known for his work on the New York Times Building (2007).

Building works began back in 2009 and the structure was topped out in the beginning of 2012 causing the tower to reach its current height of 1,016 feet.

The Shard is now not only the tallest building in the City of London, but also the first one to reach and exceed the height of 1,000 feet in Western Europe.

The Shard was officially inaugurated on 5 July 2012 by the Prime Minister of Qatar.

The Shard - Close up
The Shard - Close up

I'm sure there are people out there who aren't big fans of the more 'modern' buildings, but I personally think it looks great against London's skyline.

I found it hard to appreciate its truly magnificent height until I had stood at the foot of it and attempted to fit the whole building into the frame when taking a photo (not easy I tell you).

London Tower Bridge

London Tower Bridge
London Tower Bridge - From a distance

In 1876 the City of London Corporation came up with the idea of building another bridge in order to ease the congestion caused by a lack of bridges across the Thames River in East of London.

A special committee was formed to come up with practical ideas of how to create a bridge which was functional for both pedestrians crossing it and the river traffic which flowed along the Thames. The "Special Bridge or Subway Committee" created a public competition and asked people to submit ideas to them.

It was finally in 1884, after over 50 designs had been submitted, that the current bridge's design was finally decided on.

It was designed by the City Architect, Horace Jones along with John Wolfe Barry.

All in all it took 432 construction workers from 5 major contractors over the course of 8 years for for the Tower Bridge to be completed.

London Tower Bridge
London Tower Bridge - Close up

This, for me, is the most amazing one of the three structures because, although it is not the tallest in London, I am fascinated by the history behind it.

In this day and age it is more common for each new building to be bigger and better than its predecessors but back in 1884, the Tower Bridge was a huge undertaking and I find it interesting to learn how such a huge and intricate bridge was built without today's technologies.

If you want to learn some more of the vast history behind the Tower bridge then click here visit their website.

As with everything, this all comes down to personal preference so don't be put off if buildings are not your thing.

You may not enjoy architecture as much as I do but there are tons of amazing places to see in London, and all over the world, so you are bound to be able to apply this to something that suits your interests.

Happy exploring.
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Why? For a better appreciation of some London Landmarks
When: All year round
Where: City of London
Cost: Free
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