5 Favorite Places to Visit at the Tower of London
As a family, when we travel, we usually seek out excitement and adventure, but it would be unthinkable to travel to London without seeing some its great historical attractions. Where better to start than at the beginning of London’s history, the Tower of London? While exploring the entire place could literally take an entire day, or possibly longer, I’m going to share a little bit about this historic site and 5 of my family’s favorite attractions.
How to Get to the Tower of London
Located on the north bank of the Thames River, the Tower of London is easily accessible by boat (there literally is a boat dock a stone’s throw away); the London tube, which drops you a short walk away; or if you’re feeling like a true tourist, you can be dropped right at the sidewalk by one of the many hop-on hop-off bus tours. If you feel like taking a longer stroll, you can also get off the tube on the other side of the river and walk across the iconic Tower Bridge.
After entering the main gate it becomes apparent that this is not just a single building but rather a whole complex of buildings surrounded by two sets of walls. Spaced across the walls, at what I assume were strategic locations, are several towers and what I would call a moat (minus the water). All of the employees and docents are dressed in appropriate attire for the times, and everything about this experience really makes you feel like you’ve taken gone back into the past!
5 Must-See Tower of London Attractions
The White Tower
Rising high above the walls and located in the center is White Tower. This is one of the first buildings constructed by William the Conqueror in 1078, and while this tower has been used for many purposes throughout history, today the White Tower contains a collection of suits of armor, weapons and the world’s oldest running visitor attraction, The Line of Kings.
The famous exhibit contains wooden horses, carved figures of the kings, and full sets of their armor, some dating back over 300 years! We found it especially interesting to see how small some of suits were; we could really imagine the size and stature of those who wore them.
Another must-see attraction in this tower is the Coins and Kings Display. Here you will find some of the earliest coins ever minted and detailed explanations of how they were produced. You will also learn about how money was not just a means to purchase, but also a way to project power and politics through the world.
The Black Tower
Head over to the Black Tower to see another one of our favorite Tower of London attractions, Royal Beasts. During early medieval times it wasn’t uncommon that visiting dignitaries would bring gifts of real live wild animals to the kings as gifts, and as European expeditions explored more of the world, the animals at the Tower of London came from farther and farther away!
Lions, polar bears, elephants, monkeys, llamas, sheep, zebra, kangaroos and even anacondas are among the many creatures who made their home at the Tower of London. This interactive display portrays how the animals lived and even how unpleasant they smelled! Yes, this place is a real informational smorgasbord for the animal enthusiast.
The Jewel House
If you love all things shiny and bright, your next stop should be the Jewel House. Located here are the one and only real Crown Jewels, in all of their splendor! Spectacular crowns, scepters and even clothing are on display, along with other pieces used during the coronation of kings and queens. This was a favorite spot for me and my daughters. The only down side to this spectacular place: we didn’t get to try them on!
Located in the basement of Wakefield Tower you will find one of the creepiest and most fascinating rooms ever: the torture chamber. Here you can find replicas of three torturous devices that were used to, let’s say, extract information, in a less than comfortable way! I won’t go into lots of detail but the mental imagery of people actually being strapped into these contraptions gave my kids a real appreciation for our much more civilized society.
Walk the Wall
Our final must-not-miss Tower of London attraction is to walk the wall. Begin by climbing a rock staircase to the top of the wall, then pretend to turn back the clock and try to imagine yourself staring out across the Thames River looking for invaders!
Walking the wall takes you to the seven different towers each with its own story and history including Beauchamp Tower which was used for keeping important prisoners. (I guess if you have to be a prisoner, being an important one is best!) This activity provided spectacular views and led to many interesting and intelligent discussions with our kids. Bonus!
The Tower of London is a very expansive place to visit, and because our time was somewhat limited, my family and I only scratched the surface. If you have any favorite attractions that I didn’t mention here, we’d love to hear about them. Do tell!
You may also enjoy:
- Top 5 Must-Do’s for a Day in London
- Kids’ Top 7 Places and Things to Do in London
- Fun Things to do in London While Avoiding the Crowds
- inamo Restaurant – Techno-Fun and Delicious Food in London
- Stay at Hilton London Tower Bridge or one of other Hilton hotels in London
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Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer, currently living in Sarasota, on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast….