The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is an iconic and historic landmark located on the banks of the River Thames in London. This architectural masterpiece has witnessed centuries of political debates, royal ceremonies, and momentous events. Steeped in history and adorned with stunning Gothic architecture, the Palace of Westminster is not just a symbol of British democracy, but also a treasure trove of fascinating facts and stories. In this article, we will explore 17 mind-blowing facts about the Palace of Westminster, shedding light on its rich heritage, intriguing quirks, and unique features. From secret ghost sightings to hidden underground tunnels, get ready to uncover the mysteries and marvels of one of the world’s most famous landmarks.
Rich Historical Significance
The Palace of Westminster has stood on the same site for over 900 years, making it one of the most historically significant buildings in the world.
Impressive Gothic Architecture
The palace is renowned for its stunning Gothic Revival architecture, characterized by intricate details, soaring spires, and majestic arches.
Home to the Big Ben
The Palace of Westminster is home to the famous Big Ben, the iconic clock tower that has become a symbol of London and the United Kingdom.
Extensive Riverfront Location
Situated along the banks of the River Thames, the palace boasts an expansive riverfront that offers breathtaking views of the city skyline.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
In recognition of its cultural and historical significance, the Palace of Westminster, along with Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Palace of Westminster covers an impressive area of over 112,476 square meters, making it one of the largest parliamentary buildings in the world.
Iconic Palace of Westminster Clock Faces
The clock faces of the Palace of Westminster are the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world, each measuring approximately 23 feet in diameter.
Tons of Pigeons
In the past, the Palace of Westminster was notorious for its large number of pigeons, which often caused annoyance to visitors and staff.
The Fire of 1834
A devastating fire destroyed a significant portion of the medieval palace in The current structure was rebuilt in the Victorian Gothic style following the fire.
Beneath the Palace of Westminster lies the Parliamentary Undercroft, an ancient space that dates back to the 14th century and now houses a café and visitor center.
Famous Westminster Hall
Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the palace, has witnessed numerous historic events, including trials, coronations, and state banquets.
The Palace of Westminster contains several hidden chapels, including the Chapel of St. Mary Undercroft, a beautiful place of worship that is still used today.
Despite being the home of the UK Parliament, the Palace of Westminster remains an active royal palace, with royal events and ceremonies held within its walls.
Abundance of Statuary
The exterior of the Palace of Westminster is adorned with over 800 statues, depicting various historical figures and notable individuals.
State Opening of Parliament
The State Opening of Parliament, a grand ceremonial event, takes place at the Palace of Westminster, marking the beginning of each new parliamentary session.
Home to the House of Commons and House of Lords
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for the two houses of the UK Parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Open to Visitors
The Palace of Westminster welcomes visitors from around the world, offering guided tours that allow you to explore the historic chambers, stunning architecture, and learn about the political processes.
These 17 mind-blowing facts about the Palace of Westminster showcase the grandeur, significance, and rich history of this iconic landmark. Whether you are an architecture enthusiast, history buff, or simply curious about the United Kingdom’s political heritage, a visit to the Palace of Westminster is an absolute must. Explore the halls of power, admire the stunning views of the River Thames, and immerse yourself in centuries of British history. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this architectural marvel firsthand!
The Palace of Westminster is a true marvel, filled with architectural grandeur and rich historical significance. From its iconic Big Ben to its intricate gothic design, this landmark continues to captivate visitors from around the world. As we explored the 17 mind-blowing facts about the Palace of Westminster, we uncovered incredible stories and hidden gems that make this place truly unique.
Whether it’s the secret tunnels, the impressive collection of artwork, or the fact that it is an active working parliament, there is no shortage of fascinating aspects to discover. The Palace of Westminster stands as a symbol of British democracy and has witnessed centuries of history unfold within its walls.
As you visit this remarkable landmark, take a moment to appreciate its grandeur and reflect on the important role it plays in shaping the nation’s future. The Palace of Westminster is more than just a building; it is a living testament to the power of democracy and the enduring legacy of the British monarchy.
1. Can I visit the Palace of Westminster?
Yes, you can visit the Palace of Westminster. Guided tours are available for visitors, providing them with the opportunity to explore the historic chambers and learn about the workings of the British Parliament.
2. Is Big Ben the same as the Palace of Westminster?
No, Big Ben is actually the nickname of the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. The Palace of Westminster houses both the iconic clock tower and the British Parliament.
3. How old is the Palace of Westminster?
The oldest part of the Palace of Westminster dates back to the 11th century, while most of the current structure was rebuilt in the mid-19th century after a devastating fire.
4. Can I take photos inside the Palace of Westminster?
No, photography is generally not allowed inside the Palace of Westminster. However, you can take photos in select areas during guided tours, so be sure to check the guidelines beforehand.
5. How long does a guided tour of the Palace of Westminster last?
A guided tour of the Palace of Westminster typically lasts around 75 minutes, giving visitors ample time to explore the key areas and learn about its history.
6. Are there any restrictions on visiting the Palace of Westminster?
Yes, there are security measures in place for visitors to the Palace of Westminster. It is advisable to check the official website for any updated information on visiting guidelines and restrictions.
7. Can I attend debates or sessions in the Palace of Westminster?
Members of the public can attend debates and sessions in the Palace of Westminster, but advance booking is required. There are limited spaces available, so it is advisable to check the official website for more information on how to book.