Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tower of London, etc.

So this is the famous Tower of London.  My biggest mistake with the Tower of London is not researching more beforehand as to what this is actually all about.  Also, it was all uneven cobblestone and stairs, so making this the first stop on the vacay made the rest of the trip quite painful on the feet and calves.  But regardless, there was some cool stuff, and now that I'm home and can research, I can tell you more about it than what I actually knew while I was there.  It was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1077 AD, I think as proof that he officially conquered the peeps in London.  From what I can gather, it was used from that time, up until the mid 1700's for residence and various other purposes (most popularly know for its uses as a prison).  After that it continued as a prison, treasury and armory until after WWII, when it was opened up as a tourist attraction.  Some famous people that lived here, used the building, were imprisoned here or executed here were Richard the Lionhearted, Henry IV, Henry V, King James, the 2 princes of the Bloody Tower who disappeared (probably killed), Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Mary I, Lady Jane Grey, and Walter Raleigh.  Also it was sort of an ancient personal zoo of the king, so there were lions and monkeys and elephants here, apparently.  Basically there's a lot of history in one castle.  
 The first thing that I saw when I got into the building were the Crown Jewels.  Pictures weren't allowed, so here's a picture I got from the internet:
There were actually multiple crowns and scepters and stuff like that.  It turns out they actually still use one of the crowns today for the coronation of the modern royalty. 
Next I saw the royal armory.  Here I could take pictures, so I got one of the actual armor of Henry VIII:
There were lots more things like that, but I think only a boy could care about all of that kind of stuff.  The next cool things that I saw were in the Medieval Palace, made to look like it did when Edward I lived there as king in the latter part of the 1200's.  Here is his bedroom throne room, and prayer room:
After that I visited the Bloody Tower and learned about the mysterious disappearance of the two princes and the later discovery of 2 young skeletons under a staircase.  That was basically it for my trip through the Tower of London.  It had a bunch of cool stuff, but it was uber expensive and I'm not sure if it was worth all of that money, especially since I didn't really know a lot of the history beforehand.  I did get a great view of the Tower Bridge though:
After the Tower of London, I decided to walk to my hostel by way of St. Paul's Cathedral and Shakespeare's Globe.  It actually ended up being a boring walk for most of the part, but I did get to see the old bank:
St. Paul's wasn't that picturesque, because there were a ton of protesters camped out all around it, but I got a couple of pictures in:
Here's a view of the Thames.  I was on the Millennium Bridge, looking at the Southwark Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge:
And finally I reached the Globe.  I would have loved to have taken a tour inside, or even better seen a Shakespeare play, but alas, there wasn't any time on this trip for that.  But hopefully next time!

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