About the Area
Westminster is an area located in central London and on the north of the River Thames. Westminster is southwest of the City of London, but is debatably the most historically significant part of the area. The British government (once called the government of England) has been seated in Westminster for almost one thousand years. Also in Westminster is Westminster Abbey, located on Thorney Island. The Abbey was, and continues to be, the coronation venue for British kings and queens. In fact, the most recent royal wedding took place at Westminster Abbey.
The name Westminster comes from the West Minster, which was the monastery church located to the west of another famous church, St Paul's. In addition to this, the Palace of Westminster can be found in this area, which used to be the primary royal residence after the Roman conquest of 1066. Westminster is known as the political and cultural hub of London, while the City of London itself is more financial. Despite this reputation, Westminster is a very residential borough, with about 240,000 people residing in this area as of 2008.
Places of Interest
As Westminster has been the seat of Britainís political power for close to one thousand years as well as an incredibly significant historical area, there is no shortage of interesting places here. Westminster Abbey is a one thousand year old church and the burial ground of seventeen monarchs. If you don't want to pay to enter the building, you can attend a service for free and explore afterwards. Westminster Abbey is the location of royal weddings, and many significant writers and politicians are buried here. Just a few of the famous individuals buried here are William Blake, all three Bronte sisters, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Darwin, and John Keats.
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Most of this building dates from the 19th century, as the majority of the original palace was destroyed in a fire. Also completed in the 19th century was the famous clock tower, Big Ben. Big Ben can be found on the north side of the palace. Opposite this is the Jewel Tower, which is well worth a visit as it is the only part of the original building that is still standing.
Buckingham Palace is another interesting place. Not only is the architecture incredible and the displays informative, but lucky visitors might even catch a glimpse of the changing of the guard.
Other places no one should miss out on include the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum, Cleopatra's Needle and, for political enthusiasts, Downing Street.
Getting to Westminster is very easy. The Westminster station can be accessed via the Circle, Jubilee and District Tube lines, and the St James Park station can be accessed via the District and Circle lines. In addition to the Tube, the London Waterloo station is accessible via the mainline train, which is roughly 15 minutes away. Individuals looking for a relaxing way to see Westminster might want to consider the circular cruises that leave from Westminster pier.