Learn all about London's history and British culture

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Lluís Enric Mayans


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London has a rich history, which is good to know before your trip. Indeed, before immersing yourself in British culture ... discover the history of London! This shaped the city as we know it today. Understanding the capital better also means understanding it better when you visit its various districts.

The History of London

The history of London shows the strength of character of its people. Many events have affected the English city, but London has always known how to recover from all its misadventures.

At the beginning, the Romans ... then the Saxons

Londinium was founded by the Romans near the Thames River. The city develops thanks to a bridge which connects the northern part and the southern part of the island. The city collapsed after the withdrawal of the Roman troops, but it was reborn from its ashes during the XNUMXth century thanks to the Saxons. It is with these Saxons, and in particular with Edward the Confessor, that Westminster Abbey was built, in which the English monarchs are buried.

Westminster Abbey

London in the Middle Ages

William the Conqueror founded a castle near the Thames, a castle known today as the Tower of London, this famous monument. At the time, it is a place of residence of the royal family, then a place of incarceration. A little later, during the 1th century, the city took on considerable importance in the power struggle between Richard I and his brother Jean sans Terre. With the latter, London notably obtained the right to elect its own magistrate, but also obtained a new bridge, destroyed in the 1973th century and rebuilt in XNUMX.

The Tudor dynasty

The reign of the Tudors was a double-edged sword for London. The conversion of Henry VIII to Protestantism involves the reassignment of many monasteries and the loss of quantities of literary works, but also of hospitals. Elisabeth 1st, his daughter, built several theaters, including the Globe theater, which housed performances of Shakespeare 's plays, was destroyed twice and rebuilt identically in 1997.

Globe theater

The Stuart period

The days of the Stuarts brought their share of devastation. Two major scourges are affecting London: over strikes the first in 1565. It is stopped dead by a fire that ravages a large part of the city. From then on, there was a revival of fervor, and churches were built all over London. Among them is Saint Paul's Cathedral.

London in the contemporary era

London is developing more and more. Safety improves with the paving and lighting of the streets, the Thames has several bridges. The XNUMXth century and the Industrial Revolution attracted many peasants who came to make their fortune. London takes in too many and cannot accommodate them all adequately. We are then witnessing the proliferation of slums… and therefore of highly contagious diseases such as cholera.

Sunset over the Thames

In the twentieth century, finally, the British capital is pounded by German bombs and suffers the daily pangs of the Blitz, which causes enormous damage, including the London port. Buckingham Palace is also affected, although to a lesser extent. At the end of this war, sanitation works were undertaken to rid the city of its famous Fog. In view of its history, London shows that it has always been able to resist periods of crisis, and this is perhaps what explains the legendary phlegm of the English.

British culture: the Brit'attitude

Beyond the traditional clichés, London cultivates its Brit'attitude ...

England's aristocratic distinction

The history of London is inseparable from the Monarchy. The tabloids (as well as the British) follow with passion the actions of the royal family and Queen Elisabeth II. Beyond the celebrity aspects, the family leaves its mark on all of England, but above all on the London landscape. From the changing of the guard to the celebration of the royal birthday, passing by the castles of Windsor and Buckingham, the heart of London beats in unison with that of the royal family.

Buckingham and his royal guards

But aristocrat or not, all of England is united around its traditional afternoon tea. In London, there are many tearooms, in which this drink is always accompanied by milk, cream and pastries like scone.

A Brit 'of culture

England, but especially London, is a real cultural center. It is only to think of Shakespeare and to all the legacy he left: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear… All these plays are still current successes, and are the subject of cinematographic and scenic exploitation. Still, it is possible to see some of these pieces in the Globe theater, rebuilt according to the plans drawn under Elisabeth 1st.

The Royal Albert Hall

London also carries other forms of culture. Cradle of rock, it is the city that belongs for eternity to Rolling Stones. Finally, London is also a temple for musicals, especially in the West End. It is by its duration that the success of an English musical is judged. You'll see a lot of them on your way to the Royal Albert Hall or the Victoria Palace Theater.

A city so football!

Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Fulham and Charlton… These great football clubs known as far away as Asia have one thing in common: they are all in London, which makes the city the undisputed football capital. Besides, this sport is a real religion over there: you only have to try to have a drink in a pub to realize it. The matches take place at any time of the weekend, in the afternoon or in the evening, which makes it a real family gathering.

However, London has other major competitions, including the Boat Race, this oar competition which each year opposes the universities of Oxford and Cambridge on the Thames.

London geography

London is a city whose districts each have their own identity, but which are united by the Thames.

Growth in two stages

In the South East of England, in Great Britain, London is the largest European megalopolis. It is one of the largest financial centers in the world. Located in a very flat area, the city was able to grow at ease as soon as bridges made it possible to cross the Thames from the North of the River, in the well-known district of the City. There are thus the bridges of Chelsea, Vauxhall, Westminster, Waterloo, London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

View of london

London has also grown in height, especially in economic districts such as the Canary Whalf dominated by One Canada Square. The City has seen projects like Swiss Re, Tour 42 and 30 St Mary Ax emerge from its land.

The Thames: a major economic role of the past

The Thames played a certain role in the expansion of the city, but it also has its own peculiarities. Thus, the river (its real name is the River Thames) undergoes the phenomenon of the tides, a hundred kilometers before flowing into the North Sea. London is thus from time to time with its feet in the water (which could occur even more frequently, due to rising sea levels). Finally, the London River is often brackish in color due to the salt it contains.

Doing business in the City or Westminster

The Thames allowed London to develop economically. However, its docks were bombed too much during WWII to be rebuilt. London has thus abandoned all its maritime projects. Today, the economy is symbolized by the City, this independent constituency of London, in which business is carried out throughout the day. London also has another very important district: the Institutional Quarter, known as the Westminster Quarter.

the City of London

Let’s go shopping !

London has also developed from its department stores. Many of them are known all over Europe. They are notably located in the West End, with famous places like Oxford Street, Covent Garden or Picadilly Circus.

London does sport in the East End

Conversely, the East End district, located on the old port, is the poor part of London, made up of many immigrants. In London East lies a veritable industrial wasteland, proof if there was any need for the economic reorientation of the British capital. It is also in this district that the Olympic Games of 2012 were held.. A way to revitalize the place, where the infrastructure is still present and used by local sports associations.

London Olympic Stadium

Discover the city!

Now that you know the history of London, why not check out its essential visits ? Besides, have you planned a trip to the English capital soon?

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