The more formal name of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London is probably a better representation of what you will see if you visit the Tower of London. It is actually a castle complex with several buildings and not just a tower as you might expect when you first hear the name. It is certainly one of the busiest tourist locations in London and has quite a fascinating history. Enjoying a tour by an expert guide dressed in colorful clothing will provide you an understanding of the almost one thousand year history of the Tower of London.
Construction of the Tower began in 1078 and the castle was enhanced and modified over the following centuries. The complex served as a castle, fortress, prison, and palace, but today it is a museum that is visited by hundreds of tourists on a daily basis. In 1240, King Henry III made the Tower of London his home and whitewashed the Great Tower, which is now called the White Tower. He also added a church, great hall, and several other buildings. It truly was a castle that was fit for a king.
Although it was considered a prison, it was really more of a place where prisoners were held before being executed. There is even an executioners axe and block on display from the time when crowds would gather to watch people being beheaded. One of the most famous executions, of which there were many, was of Queen Anne Boleyn in 1536. As it was also a fortress, one of the sights you will see when touring the complex is the armory. Seeing all of the weapons will give you a sense of the history of the instruments of warfare as well as the knights with their suits of armor.
It is hard to believe that it has been over a decade since we visited London, but certainly the Tower of London was a highlight of our time there. Not surprisingly, it was rainy while we were there, but we did have a great view of the Tower Bridge as well. With its interesting architecture as well as its complex and interesting history, the Tower of London should be on the itinerary of anyone planning a visit to London.