Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Tower of London

World Heritage Sites



For Christmas, Mimi gave me an 872-page guide to the Unesco World Heritage Sites and I've been reading it non-stop since yesterday morning.  It inspired me to review some of the sites I have been to--nearly one hundred of them! 

The Tower of London was added to the list in 1988 because of its significance in human history. The original castle was built in 1066 by William the Conquerer as a symbol of Norman power.  The castle with its four turrets was built strategically on a bend in the River Thames.  It served as the gateway to London, providing both protection and control over the Saxon population.  The term "towered over" came from this massive building.  There was no doubt in anyone's mind who was in charge.

Today, the Tower of London includes many buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat.  Many tourists go there today ( like me) to see the collection of Crown Jewels and the Royal Armories.
 The Beefeaters or Yeoman Warders, dressed in historic uniforms, guard the tower and give the tours.  Our guide was both knowledgeable and entertaining.  One of the most endearing stories he told was the legend of the ravens.  These big black birds live in the Tower gardens and if they ever leave, the monarchy will fall.  So, of course, their wings have all been clipped!
Ghost stories also abound.  When princes disappear and queens get beheaded, this is what happens! 

This historical site is an excellent place to begin your tour of London.  The reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I are covered in detail by the Beefeaters who bring alive these fascinating and important times in English history.  Afterwards, my travel buddy and I went to a pub.  We clinked our mugs together and toasted, not the past, but the present--happy to be born in the 20th century!

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