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Snapshot: London

September 16, 2020

A global melting pot, London’s diversity has created some of the best art, food and architecture of anywhere in the world

 

London – the cultural capital of the world, the most exciting city on earth, the city that never sleeps. Home of the Queen, jellied eels and the Rolling Stones. The city where modern towers thrust up against their ancient architectural cousins.

 

A typical London landscape with double decker busses and a view of the Big Ben.
A typical London landscape with double decker busses and a view of the Big Ben.

 

A city with the depth of history of London truly does provide an unparalleled experience for any visitor and has been at the top of bucket lists for centuries. 
Long gone are the smoggy streets and terrible food depicted in cliched old films. Today, London is a clean, vibrant and thrilling city to spend time in.

Just walking around London is an adventure in itself. Whether it’s a stroll along the South Bank of the Thames taking in the iconic Tower Bridge, past the London Eye to Westminster, or a walk through one of the city’s many royal parks, home to generations of Kings, Queens and Princes. Perhaps you'd like to visit Primrose Hill or Hampstead Heath to watch the sun set over the city, before stopping into one of London’s traditional pubs for a pint and a pie.

 

A visitor looks over London City from Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath.
A visitor looks over London City from Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath.

 

Exploring the confusing, narrow streets that haven’t changed in centuries, you can spot historical gem after gem. The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey lie beside towers of modernity with quirky names – the Gherkin, The Walkie Talkie and the Shard. And through the city, locations recognisable from films such as Harry Potter (Leadenhall Market), Bridget Jones (Borough Market) and Love Actually (Notting Hill) are around every corner.

 

Food stalls at the famous Borough Market.
Food stalls at the famous Borough Market.

 

Much of London can also be enjoyed for free. World-famous museums such as the British Museum (mummies), the Victoria and Albert Museum (colonial treasures), the Natural History Museum (dinosaurs) and the Science Museum (rockets) all ask for a donation rather than an entry charge. Similarly, galleries such as the Tate Britain (William Blake), the Tate Modern (Damien Hirst) and the National Gallery (JMW Turner) are among the free attractions for culture vultures.

 

The main hall of the Natural History Museum
The main hall of the Natural History Museum

 

While the suburbs of London sprawl far into the distance, the city centre is surprisingly compact, easily distinguishable by area, and navigable by Tube or bus.

The theatre district lies in the West End of Leicester Square, and next door’s Covent Garden is where market stallholders have been mingling with opera-goers for centuries. Nearby Soho – once the centre of debauchery – still holds the hedonistic crown, while Mayfair, just a block away, is where the well-heeled buy their art.

 

The Exterior of the Lyceum Theatre at the West End District near Covent Gardens.
The Exterior of the Lyceum Theatre at the West End District near Covent Gardens.

 

London is, of course, a shopping mecca. From the designer stores of Bond Street and the wonderful chaos of Oxford Street, to the antiques of Notting Hill Market and the boutiques of Spitalfields, there is something for every budget. And every taste, too. Borough Market is the oldest food market in Europe and still the place where Londoners buy everything from fresh seafood to local pheasant and wild rabbit. 

As Britain’s political and financial capital, London's wealth has always attracted people to its shores in a bid for a better life. The diverse population – from the French Huguenots of the 17th century to the Russian Jews of the 19th and the post-Colonial migrants of the 20th century – have left an indelible mark on the city.


Today, London is a melting pot of diversity with all of the cultural benefits – not least in its cuisine. The curry houses of Brick Lane, the Shisha bars of Edgeware Road, the Jerk Chicken restaurants in Notting Hill and Turkish restaurants of Green Lanes are all testament to the more recent international communities that call London home.

 

Various establishments ranging from Asian to the Middle Eastern stores on the famed Brick Lane.
Various establishments ranging from Asian to the Middle Eastern stores on the famed Brick Lane.

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