This fellow needs no introduction. It’s quite possible that every child and every adult wherever s/he lives would be able to recognize it and say where it is. For me Big Ben is London. Moreover, Big Ben is Britain. I remember my excitement when I first saw it during my first trip to London for New Year’s 2007. It was as beautiful and striking as in the photos. Whenever I re-visited London I made sure to come close to it and have a look at it again and I’d feel equal joy as I did the first time I saw it. I know, it’s just a clock tower annexed to the Houses of the Parliament but for someone who has dreamed of London for as long as one can remember it represents so much more.
So, let me refresh your memory with a few basic facts about this British landmark. First of all, Big Ben is the nickname of the Giant Bell inside the clock tower not the tower itself. The tower used to be called St.Stephen’s but in honour of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee it was renamed after her so it’s called the Elizabeth’s tower now. But the real name of the clock tower is actually just The Clock Tower. The tower is 97 m tall and it was built after the Palace of Westminster (widely known as the Houses of Parliament) burnt down in 1834. The official name of the clock is the Great Westminster Clock.
Big Ben isn’t the only bell inside the clock tower’s belfry. There are also four other quarter bells inside that chime every quarter-hour. Big Ben was cast in 1858 and it weighs about 13.5 tons. There was even one MP imprisoned in the tower briefly because he didn’t want to take an oath on the bible. If you’re a British citizen then you can go on a tour of the tower for free! You go up 334 steps to the top to hear Big Ben strike the hour and you can go behind the clock’s dials and see the mechanism room too (for details check http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/visiting-and-tours/tours-of-parliament/bigben/ ). How awesome is that! However, it’s not fair that I can’t do it. Tours of the Houses of Parliament are available to all and I think I’ll do that one day 🙂
Now, enjoy the photos of this handsome fellow:
Have you read my other London posts?