It’s difficult to imagine how much space the Tower of London takes up until you get there and realize that it’s more or less an entire village surrounded by walls.
Started by William the Conqueror in 1078, buildings have been added over the centuries, and although built as a castle and a palace, it has also been used as a zoo and a mint, as well as an arsenal where weapons were stored.
However, most of us know it as a gruesome prison and center of executions. The Crown Jewels are also kept at the Tower and have been since the 14th century. Be sure to see Saint Edward’s Crown, which is used to crown a new king or queen, and the Imperial State Crown (which Queen Victoria wore as the monarch of the most powerful empire in the world) with its 3,000 precious jewels. The Traitor’s Gate is worth a look, leading into the Tower from the river Thames. Few of the traitors brought through this gate left the Tower alive. Finally the Bloody Tower itself is where in1483 Prince Edward, the heir to the throne and his brother were locked up here by their uncle who then declared himself king.The princes mysteriously disappeared, and their bones weren’t found until more than a hundred years later.
Other famous prisoners include Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s unfortunate wives, famed explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, and Queen Elizabeth I who was locked up by her sister Mary.
Tower of London
Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB