Another of the cities that feature in my novel Deep Plant, albeit mostly in cameo, is London. Paris is known as the City of Light, New York is the Big Apple, Rome is the Eternal City and Jerusalem is the Holy City. You might think a city of the prominence of England’s capital, would have a moniker more glamorous than Big Smoke.
You would be wrong.
Apparently Big Smoke refers to the ocean of air pollution that billowed into London’s skies, as workers flocked to the capital in search of work during the United Kingdom’s industrialization in the 1800’s into the 1900’s.
But make no mistake, London in many ways is the center of the world. Institutions we take for granted, spring from this amazing city.
English - The Language Embraced By The World
Wikipedia reports that the International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets standards governing worldwide aviation, mandates pilots, air traffic controllers and other aviation authorities be proficient in their native language and English, making English the language of aviation. Numerous websites such as the Harvard Business Review, GoFluent, American Express and Rosetta Stone…. Testify that English is the lingua franca of business, science and technology.
UK's Global Contributions
But the single greatest thing Britain has given the world is …democracy. The Magna Carta, the foundation of democratic government was created at the English town of Runnymede in 1215. In the age of exploration, Britain alone planted democracy in many corners of the world. Great nations such as America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and many others, enjoy a system of government that Abraham Lincoln spoke in his famous Gettysburg Address, that is by, for and of the people.
Don't Miss Attractions in London
In London, things you of course should see include:
- Buckingham Palace, originally built by the Duke of Buckingham as a private residence prior to its acquisition by King George III in 1761.
- The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror in 1078. It has served as a fortress, a prison, and a royal residence. The last monarch to live at the Tower was King Henry the VIII. (Photo thanks to Nick Fewings).
The Tower Of London Has Served as a Fortress, a Prison, and a Royal Residence.
- The Tower Bridge, easily one of London’s most recognizable landmarks, the Bridge was a focal point of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic Games when Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by James Bond, flew through the twin bascule segments on their way to Wembley Stadium. Cheerio!
- There are a number of famous four face clock towers on the planet. Completed in 1859, Big Ben is the heavyweight champion of the world. A cultural icon, as British as the Queen, the BBC, British Bulldog, the red telephone booth, and the Cliffs of Dover. Get there early as crowds gather quickly, no trip to London is complete without a selfie with Ben in the background.
- Westminster Abbey, coronation, church, cemetery; nation and kneeling. Few places will inspire and infuse your soul more than this place. Reigns commence here. Christians worship here. And some of Britain’s greatest heroes are interred here. Men and women like Queen Elizabeth I, Isaac Newton, William Wilberforce, Steven Hawking, and Charles Dickens. Just outside, above the Great Western Door are ten statues dedicated to 20th Century Christian Martyrs, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The only tomb visitors are forbidden to walk upon is that of the Unknown Warrior, which is marked by red Flanders poppies, the Flower of Remembrance.
- Piccadilly Circus. Teeming humanity. Food melded to fashion. Flashing neon lights. It connects shopping and London’s famous West End, British Broadway. A Times Square vibration.
Other Attractions in England
Other places worth a visit would be the Royal Observatory at Greenwich on the Thames. What is notable? The world begins and ends here. Literally. The Prime Meridian is here, you can stand with one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and the other in the Western Hemisphere, a world apart. (Notice in the picture below, the cities listed and how far they are from Greenwich).
If you have time, plan a day trip to Oxford. About an hour north of London by train, the town is home to Oxford University which traces its teaching history to 1096 AD, making it the second oldest continuously operated college in the world.
The town itself is very charming and unrushed. I hope you het the chance to visit the Big Smoke someday. Chip, chip Cheerio!