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London, Greater London, England
The Tower of London is situated on the banks of the River Thames in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, beside an open area known as Tower Hill.
Most people relate the Tower of London to the part of the site known as the White Tower, a square tower fortress 890 feet high with four turrets rising above the battlements; however the site is made up of many towers and buildings set within two rings of defensive walls and a moat.
The buildings are constructed from Kentish ragstone with Caen stone, imported from France, for the corners and the surrounds to the windows and doorways. The whole site is an ancient monument and has been very well restored and maintained.
The tower is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5.30pm, Sunday and Monday from 10am. From November to February the castle closes at 4.30pm
There are so many interesting features it would be possible to spend many days visiting the Tower. Apart from a visit to the buildings themselves there are also opportunities to see such things as the Crown Jewels. Visit the jewel house to see the 23,578 gems including the world's most famous diamonds. Take a Yeoman of the Guard, or Beefeater Tour, included in the admission price; learn about the Tower's history and about those who lost their heads at there. Visit the Prisoner's exhibition, learn about how the prisoners were treated with interactive displays. Visit Tower Green, famous for the ravens, legend has it if the six ravens leave the tower will fall, the green also has a memorial to all those who lost their lives there. Visit the Armory collection and the remains of the wall from the Roman fortress.
The site has two restaurants catering for every taste and serving anything from a cup of tea to a full meal and five shops including a Jewelry shop and the Beefeater shop selling over 60 kinds of traditional British sweets.
The centerpiece of the tower of London is the Norman White Tower built by William the Conqueror in 1078. The tower was to serve two purposes, to protect the Normans from the people living in the city and from outside invaders. King Richard, Richard the Lionheart, was responsible for adding the curtain wall and moat which he had filled from the River Thames.
During the reign of Henry III the tower was transformed into a magnificent royal residence with a new inner bailey constructed to the south of the White tower to house more palatial buildings.
Edward the I added his mark by building an outer curtain wall with five towers facing the river creating a double defense, filling in the old moat and digging a new one around the outer wall. The tower which served as the water entrance to the site became known as Traitors gate as prisoners accused of Treason such as Sir Thomas Moore and Anne Boleyn entered the castle through this entrance.
Although the palaces are owned by the Queen for the nation, the castle is maintained and run by an independent charity called the Historic Royal Palaces trust who receive no income from the Crown or the government.
Other Castles in the Area
Eynsford Castle, Kent