City of London

The east part of London's city center is the part that is called City of London. It contains the central business district with central London's 2 tallest buildings, the famous St Paul's Cathedral, the historic Cleopatra's Needle, the beautiful Royal Courts of Justice and the legendary Tower of London with its Tower Bridge. We just visited the "city" by foot once. It was warm and sunny then. Unfortunately almost none of London's tallest buildings are open to public anymore (2006).

St Paul's Cathedral. A London landmark (111m tall) since 1710 and a great piece of classical architecture with its domed facade and columns.

It replaced the old gothic St Paul's Cathedral that burned down and was 150m tall. Unfortunately the facade has been dirty because of the pollution, so part of the facade was under renovation. The renovation of the interior had just been completed, but the whole renovation project lasted until 2008.

The interior. We didn't go any further than to the entrance hall, because it was expensive to see more of the cathedral. Photographing was not allowed, but that didn't prevent me to take this photo towards the high ceiling inside the cathedral.

The Financial District

Tower 42. Formerly known as NatWest Tower(National Westminster Bank Tower), this skyscraper was UK:s tallest building for 10 years with a height of 183m and 43 floors.

Completed in 1980, it is now still the tallest building in central London however, but only the 4th tallest in the city (beaten by taller buildings in Canary Wharf). On the 24th and 42nd floors there are restaurants. The building was vacated in 1993 because of a nearby IRA bomb.

Swiss Re. The official name is 30 St Mary Axe or the silly nickname "Gherkin". At 180m and 41 floors it is the 2nd tallest building in London's city center. It has fastly become a new landmark and symbol of London. It is one of the most popular skyscrapers in the world and my favourite highrise in London. It was designed by Norman Foster and mainly built by the Swedish construction company Skanska.

There is a panoramic dome on the top.

The entrance of 30 St Mary Axe. Unfortunately we wasn't allowed to get inside because we didn't work were, but we got a postcard from the guard. All the people who was running in and out of the large office buildings was very formally dressed with suit and tie. To me they all looked the same...

The Lloyds Building. At a height of just 95m and 14 floors it is not the height this famous highrise is known for. No, it is the futuristic architecture from 1986.It was designed by Richard Rogers who also designed Centre Pompidou in Paris.

The thing these buildings have in common is that they are designed so it looks like the exterior is an interior. There are panorama elevators running on this strange facade. Right next to Lloyds, the new skyscraper Willis Building is under construction.

Unfortunately we wasn't allowed to go futher than to Lloyd's reception, so we couldn' visit the futuristic atrium with its many escalators that is very famous and has been featured in many sci-fi movies, despite it has been open to public before. Probably that changed since 9/11. I was outside in 1999, but unfortunately it was closed then. And now it is too late...

St Helen's Tower (118m, 28 floors) is the black box to the right of Swiss Re.

54 Lombard Street from 1992.

20 Fenchurch Street. 90m, 25 floors.

This postmodern gothic office building has a very cool architecture.

City of London's financial district reminds of Manhattan. But unlike Manhattan, the tallest buildings are just around 100m, except for the Tower 42 and Swiss Re.

Leadenhall Market. A nice indoor market with food and restaurants, right next to the skyscrapers.

The Tower of London. The legendaric castle where the crown jewels are kept. It has been the seat of British government and the living quarters of monarchs, the site of renown political intrigue, it has housed lions, bears, ravens and much much more. Even if it is one of the world's most visited tourist attractions, I have never been inside because of the high entrance fee, but I have heard that many of London's citizens haven't been there either. The Tower of London consists of buildings from the 11th century-the mid 19th century. The White Tower, 27m, is the centerpoint of the complex.

The Tower from the entrance. The White Tower is the centrepiece and most recognizable building of The Tower of London complex. There is a myth about that if the ravens leave the Tower, the whole Britain will fall, so sometimes they clip their wings.

The Tower with the contrast of the modern skyline in the background.

Tower Bridge. Without competition the most remarkable landmark bridge of London, completed in 1894. About 900 times a year, the bascules are arisen to help tall ships get through. In 1999, me and my friend went on a guided tour where we took the elevator up to the tower at the north side of the Thames, walked on a skybridge above the driving lanes and the river and then took another elevator down at the tower south of the river. In 2005, me and my girlfriend just walked on the lower part of the bridge, at street level, but got excellent skyline shots form there.

Tower Bridge from the Thames.

A modern commercial complex with cool glass reflections in an outdoor atrium close to The Tower.

This ultramodern glass building, still under construction in May 2005, is situated right opposite the historic Tower of London that you can see mirrors in the glass!

The Strand and Victoria Embankment

The Strand is one of London's most famous streets and has many stores. It was a bit strange to see that The Strand is one level higher than Victoria Embankment, that goes one level under Waterloo Bridge along Thames.

Cleopatra's Needle. This impressive obelisk is standing right at the north side of the Thames. It is one of 2 obelisks that were erected in front of the Caesarium Temple in Alexandria. But in an earthquake 1301 A.D. one of them fell. In the 19th Century, it was transported to London while the other one was transported to New York. And here it is.

Somerset House. An art museum right between The Strand and Embankment. We relaxed in its nice courtyard that had fountains directly from the ground.

Royal Court of Justice, UK:s supreme court is one of London´s most beautiful buildings.

Many trials with famous people involved have been taking place there.

Picture from the skylines section:

City of London skyline as seen from Waterloo Bridge above Thames. From the left: Shakespeare Tower, Lauderdale Tower, Cromwell Tower, CityPoint, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower 42 (NatWest Tower), 30 St Mary Axe (Swiss Re) (central London's tallest and 2nd buildings) and Kings Reach Tower (just east of Thames).