The National Gallery is the largest and the premier (hence the name) gallery in the UK, with collections spanning the early Middle ages to the 20th century. The building itself is grand and cavernous with enormous care having been taken to present the works in a digestible and logical sequence. There are so many well known canvases in The National Gallery that around every corner there's an 'ooh' and 'ahh' of recognition. Amongst others you'll find works by: Titian, Turner, Raphael, Caravaggio, Botticelli and Rubens. Rooms are lit from above in the Sainsbury Wing and supplemented by automated lighting if the sun goes behind a cloud, so you never see the paintings in anything less than their best light.
The Medieval Art has been restored (which has received much criticism by 'experts'), so that they positively gleam, whereas previously, they were dun and rather lacking colour. There's too much to take in, in one visit, so probably best to visit in several stages. With such a central location, this presents no problem and if you live in the capital, there's nothing to prevent you visiting the National Gallery as often as you like.
The main crush will be around the impressionist paintings which draw the largest and most enthusiastic crowds - Van Goch, Seurat and Monet are well represented and ten-deep with admirers, but it's all in good spirit. People are just pleased to see them and the atmosphere is always polite and well mannered. Along with the Tate Britain, the National Gallery is an essential stop on a visitor's tour of London. Aside from the well-known canvasses - it's the lesser known works and the extraordinary beauty of the gallery itself, that will stay with you.
Buckingham Palace in London, was originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace. It was a sizable townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and enlarged over the next 100 years, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard.
Buckingham Palace became the official royal palace of the British monarch in London after the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb in World War II and the Queen's Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection. It is one of London's top 3 visitor attractions and the changing of the guard (11am every day in summer, every other day in winter) is on the sightseeing list of most visitors and tourists in London.
The original early 19th-century interior designs, many of which still survive, included widespread use of scagliola (a technique for creating 'chips' in columns so they resemble marble) and blue and pink lapis, King Edward VII oversaw a partial redecoration in a Belle epoque cream and gold colour scheme.
The Buckingham Palace Garden is the largest private garden in London, originally landscaped by Capability Brown, the artificial lake was completed in 1828 and is supplied with water from the Serpentine, the river which runs through Hyde Park. You'll have to take the Inside Guide to London's word for it - as the Palace Gardens are off-limits to visitors and tourists. Garden parties are held annually and members of the civil service and forces, invariably get invited to attend once or twice in their lifetime.
The state rooms form the nucleus of the working Palace and are used regularly by Queen Elizabeth II and members of the royal family for official and state entertaining.
The Science Museum was founded in 1857 but it was only in 1885 that the Science Collections were renamed The Science Museum and the Art Collections were renamed the Art Museum, which later became the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Science Museum now holds a collection of over 300,000 items, including such famous exhibits as Stephenson's Rocket, Puffing Billy (the oldest surviving steam locomotive), the first jet engine, a reconstruction of Francis Crick and James Watsons' model of DNA, some of the earliest remaining steam engines, the Apollo 10 Command Module, a working example of Charles Babbage's Difference engine, the first prototype of the 10,000-year Clock of the Long Now, and documentation about the first typewriter.
The Natural History Museum is home to life and earth science specimens arranged in five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. The museum is a world-renowned centre of research, specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin.
One of the most famous exhibits — affectionately known as Dippy — is a 105-foot (32 m) long replica Diplodocus skeleton, situated in the entrance hall. The cast was donated by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, after a discussion with King Edward VII, then a keen trustee of the British Museum. Carnegie arranged for the cast to be created, copying the original held at the Carnegie Museum. The pieces were sent to London in crates, and on the 12th May 1905, the exhibit was unveiled, to great public and media interest.
St. Paul's Cathedral is built of Portland stone in the late Renaissance, Baroque style. Its impressive dome was inspired by St Peter's Basilica in Rome, which rises to 365 feet (108 m) at its summit. It was the fifth of his designs which was eventually approved for the commission. The dome is actually three domes, each inside the other. The tall outer dome is non-structural but aesthetically pleasing, the lower inner dome provides an artistically balanced interior, and between the two is a structural cone that supports the inner and outer domes. The weight of the dome is prevented from pushing the base outwards, by means of an enormous chain, to restrain the forces. Wren was said to have been hauled up to the rafters in a basket during the building of St Paul's Cathedral's later stages to inspect progress, despite being in his seventies.
South of St. Paul's Cathedral is the recently constructed Millennium Bridge, which leads across the Thames to the Tate Modern.
The Tate Modern at Bankside is Britain's national gallery for modern art. The galleries are housed within the former Bankside Power Station, which was originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect of the iconic Battersea Power Station.