London Sights - Palace of Westminster

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The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, in London, England is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet to conduct their business.
The Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames.

Palace of Westmnster

The oldest part of the Palace still in existence, Westminster Hall, dates from 1097. The palace originally served as a royal residence but no monarch has lived in it since the 16th century. Most of the present structure dates from the 19th century, when the Palace was rebuilt after it was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in 1834. The architect responsible for rebuilding the Palace was Sir Charles Barry with Augustus Welby Pugin. The building is an example of Gothic revival.

The Palace contains over 1,000 rooms, the most important of which are the Chambers of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons. The Palace also includes committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining-rooms, bars and gymnasiums. It is the site of important state ceremonies, most notably the State Opening of Parliament. The Palace is very closely associated with the two Houses, as shown by the use of the word "Westminster" to refer to "Parliament".

Palace of Westmnster


The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, which is almost always referred to as Westminster Abbey, is a mainly Gothic church, on the scale of a cathedral, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English monarchs.

Westminster Abbey
Aristocrats were buried in side chapels and monks and people associated with the Abbey were buried in the Cloisters and other areas. One of these was Geoffrey Chaucer, who was buried here as he had apartments in the Abbey where he was employed as master of the Kings Works. Other poets were buried around Chaucer in what became known as Poets' Corner. Abbey musicians such as Henry Purcell were also buried in their place of work. Subsequently it became an honour to be buried or memorialised here. The practice spread from aristocrats and poets to generals, admirals, politicians, scientists and doctors.

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At the north-western end of the Palace is the most famous of the towers, St Stephen's Tower, the Clock Tower (often referred to as Big Ben) which is
96 m (316 ft) tall. The Clock Tower houses a large clock known as the Great Clock of Westminster. On each of the four sides of the tower is a large clock face. The tower also houses five bells, which strike the Westminster Chimes every quarter hour. The largest and most famous of the bells is Big Ben (officially, the Great Bell of Westminster), which strikes the hour. This is the third heaviest bell in England, weighing 13 tons 10 cwt 99 lb (about 13.8 t). Although the term "Big Ben" properly refers only to the bell, it is often colloquially applied to the whole tower.