The City of Westminster
The heart of the City of Westminster is Parliament square. On one side, near the river Thames, you may find the buildings of the Houses of Parliament which are built in neo-gothic style. The British Parliament was formed after the year 1215 by a document called British Magna Charta. It was an arrangement between the king John and his noblemen about limiting the powers of the king by improving (or approving) the king’s decisions.
The Houses of Parliament have 2 chambers – the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
The House of Lords is lavishly decorated in red color. There’s a throne of the sovereign, but the Queen is present here only during the state opening of the Parliament. She holds there a speech the writer of which is the Prime Minister. Another important seat is the Woolsack, seat of the Lord Chancellor who presides over the House of Lords.
The House of Commons is more restrained in style. There’re paralell rows of green benches around the whole chamber. In the center of the room there’s a big table with a mace – it’s a symbol of power and leadership. In front of the table there’s a seat of the Speaker who presides over the House of Commons.
By the Houses of Parliament there’s the most famous landmark of London – a clock tower called Big Ben. Big Ben is the name of the bell (it was named after on minister who donated money for the bell) – Benjamin Hall (he was very tall and the tower is tall too).
Just across the square is the most important cathedral in London – Westminster Abbey. It stands on the place where a benedictine monastery stood. It was called West Monastery and it is the origin of the name Westminster.
They started to build the cathedral in the 12th century but it was finished in the 19th century.
All coronations (and also funerals) of kings and queens take place there.
Some monarchs and other important people are even buried there, among them Elisabeth I, not far from her Mary Stuart, Edward the Confessor (he was the man who decided to build the Abbey).
Famous place in the cathedral is Poets‘ Corner. You may find there tombstones and memorials of famous poets and writers. But it’s misleading because not all of them are buried there (G. Byron, John Milton, William Wordsworth, W.Shakespeare).
In the center of the main nave you can see a throne of sovereign, under which you may find the Stone of Scone – a symbol of Scottish royalty. The stone was brought from Scotland and it symbolizes the union between England and Scotland.
In Front of the Cathedral there’s lawn with statues of famous politicians (Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln).