London in 3 Days – Day 2

London - 69Big Ben and London Eye

Second day in London, woke up early and went discovering the city.

We chose Westminster’s area, starting with the Westminster Abbey, which is part of the political and religious core of the United Kingdom – Parliament Square.

The abbey is one of the most beautiful and the most important English churches, and a glorious example of medieval architecture. In the 970s, Saint Dunstan of Cornwall founded a community of Benedictine Monks in this place but only between the years of 1045 and 1050 the abbey made of stone was built by Edward “The Confessor”. This is still a place of choice for royal celebrations, like the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the funeral of Princess Diana and the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. This wonderful place is also a pantheon that keeps the royal tombs and also those of important personalities in history, like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, among others.

London - 71Westminster Abbey

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This political and religious center is where England’s heart beats, Parliament Square is also constituted by the Houses of Parliament or Westminster’s Palace, a vigorous Gothic building, where the biggest symbol of the city is located, the Big Ben, the tower with the watch and a bell weighing more than 13 tons, conceived by Benjamin Hall, a big and great man, that gave it its name! This notorious London visit card tells us the time precisely for more than 150 years.

In this place we can also find the statues of Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell and the St. Margaret’s Church, which is situated at the side of Westminster Abbey and the favorite of the politicians and famous people for their weddings. Another place near the Abbey is Dean’s Yard, a picturesque square, constituted by buildings from different epochs, many of them occupied by Westminster School.

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Very close to Parliament Square and towards the center of town, we have the Churchill War Rooms Museum. I loved it… Here we find the original chambers and the rooms where all strategies and communications of Churchill passed by during World War II, we understand perfectly the bunker where that government and its more emblematic leader commanded the destiny of that country and of Europe. We walked through the secret history that was lived underground, the stories of those who worked there while London was bombed.

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When we left here, we walked the White Hall Street until arriving to Trafalgar Square, to the next mandatory stop, the National Gallery, but not before taking a peek at the famous 10 Downing Street, official residence and office of the Prime Minister, and taking some pictures at the Horse Guards.

London - 55London - 44The National Gallery

The National Gallery dates back from 1824 and it’s one of the most important museums in Europe and one of the most known around the world. It houses a precious collection of more than 2300 paintings, dating from mid XIII century to the beginning of XX century.

This monumental neoclassical building, constructed over a former London mansion that gives it the Italian columns at the entrance, has some of the most important, rare and emblematic works in the History of Art, from artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Degas, Picasso, among others.

Well, excellent morning but also exhausting, without a second to rest, but those who run for pleasure never tire, and just this way we enjoy  the city for real! We just had three days!

London - 40Covent Garden Apple Market

So we stopped for lunch at the Clos Magiore restaurant, in Covent Garden, elected for years as the most romantic in town. The area is dominated by commercial establishments that offer shopping and entertaining, besides street performances. Covent Garden Market is an example of that, with bars and restaurants, street artists and varied stores.

London - 33 Royal Albert Hall

After lunch and some deserved rest we went to an imposing building, the Royal Albert Hall, which unfortunately we weren’t able to visit because it was closed. This is a show room with capacity for more than 8000 people, opened in March 29th 1871, by Queen Victoria, in memory of her deceased husband Prince Albert. The building is beautiful with a glass vaulted ceiling and the use of terracotta bricks, typical of the Victorian Era that is also present, for instance, at the Natural History Museum.

London - 31A dinosaurs’ fossil in the Natural History Museum

Speaking of it, it was precisely the place we headed next!

We arrived close to 5 pm, therefore it was getting dark, which gave the Victorian building even more beauty. The space has around 70 million species or items. There is also a garden of healthy life that includes several native species of fauna and flora. Founded in 1881, as a department of the British Museum, it has collections with great historical and scientific value, like the species collected by Darwin. One of the exclusiveness’s is the permanent exhibition of dinosaur skeletons. The library has books, journals, manuscripts and art collections linked to the work and investigation. It is a place loved either by kids and adults.

We ended our day walking and having dinner at Soho, in one of the most wanted restaurants, Pulpo.

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This article is the 2nd of a series of 3. (see Day 1) (Day 3)

Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses.

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