Over the past 2,000 years, inhabitants of London have built some of the world’s most historic buildings, which have survived devastating fires and wars. Buildings that were constructed decades ago, used by and home to some of the most important people in British and world history, still stand, providing some of London’s major tourist attractions. Read Culture Trip’s guide to ten of London’s most iconic buildings, and the history that surrounds them.
The Queen’s House
Anne of Denmark — the wife of King James I, who reigned from 1603–25 — commissioned the Queen’s House. It was an important residence for the early Stuart dynasty as well as for the Tudors. There have been a number of unexplained ghostly sightings in the Queen’s House; one of the first occurred during 1966, when a retired couple from Canada were visiting the premises. They took a photograph of the House’s Tulip staircase, and on return to Canada, the developed photograph revealed a shrouded figure on the staircase.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
King William III bought Kensington Palace, originally known as Nottingham House, in 1689 from his Secretary of State. Once William bought it, Christopher Wren, one of the most highly acclaimed architects in history, was commissioned to extend and improve on the house. Until the death of George II in 1760, Kensington Palace was the favourite residence of the sovereign; although Queen Victoria was born and brought up in the Palace, upon her accession to the throne in 1837, she moved to Buckingham Palace and never again stayed at Kensington.
Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official London Residence, as well as an office for the Head of State. The palace has 775 rooms, and today has a staff of over 800. The Palace was originally created by the Duke of Buckingham, which he built for himself as a grand London home. The architect John Nash transformed it into Buckingham Palace in the 1820s, but the first monarch to use the palace as her official residence was Queen Victoria when she moved there in 1837.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace was England’s most significant palace during the Tudor age. It was developed for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1515, but Henry VIII seized occupancy in 1529 and began the process of rebuilding and remodeling, which lasted approximately ten years. Henry transformed the palace beyond recognition. There are no drawings of the original Wolsey palace and very few written records of its constructions remain. Until recently, historians have had little idea as to just how much of Wolsey’s original palace survived amongst Henry VIII’s renovations.
Westminster Abbey, one of the most important Gothic buildings in the UK, has been the Coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs and some of the most significant people in Britain’s history. The Abbey has been home to many royal occasions, including 16 royal weddings –most recently the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The present building was built by King Henry III in 1245, when he pulled down part of the 11th century Abbey, which had been founded by King Edward the Confessor.
The Houses of Parliament
King William II built the Houses of Parliament between 1097 and 1099. Various royal residents remodeled the Palace until the 1500s, when Henry VIII decided to move out, bringing its role as royal residence to an end. Although it officially remained a royal palace, it was used by the two Houses of Parliament and by the various royal law courts. The Palace included no chambers for the two Houses and began to see significant alterations in the 18th century, due to Parliament’s struggle to carry out business in its limited available spaces.
The Old Royal Naval College
The Old Royal Naval College is built on a site that was originally occupied by the manor house of the Duke of Gloucester, built in the 1420s. It was later acquired by Queen Margaret of Anjou, who extended it to create the Palace of Placentia. After being rebuilt by Henry VIII as Greenwich Palace in the late 1490s, the structure became a favourite royal residence of the Tudors. During the English Civil War, the palace fell into disrepair, and most of the buildings were demolished. Today only their foundations exist beneath Grand Square.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral was the first cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the 16th century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope and placed control of the life of the church in the hands of the Crown. St Paul’s Cathedral is a masterpiece by Britain’s most famous architect, Christopher Wren, and is at least the fourth to have stood on the site that it was built on between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.
Somerset House was built on the site of an earlier Tudor palace that was demolished in 1775. The old building was demolished in order to build a new space to house many of the government’s offices and the principal learned societies under one roof. During the Reign of King James I, the building became the London residence of his wife, Anne of Denmark, and was renamed Denmark House. James also built a Chapel where Henrietta Maria of France, wife of King Charles I, could exercise her Roman Catholic religion.
The Tower of London
Before the Victorian era, the Tower of London served as a royal residence and a notorious prison. It is over 27 meters tall and was designed to invoke fear. The tower was originally built in the 1070s, but was extended by Henry III and Edward I during the medieval period. During the Tudor era, the tower entered a bloody period, with cells and torture chambers full of political and religious prisoners in the aftermath of Henry VIII’s break from the authority of the Pope in Rome.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.