With origins dating back as far as 1066, the Tower of London has a staggering collection of tales to reveal of events that unfolded within its Norman walls. It’s here that Royal ceremonies took place, coins were minted for over 500 years, and imprisoned criminals were tortured. And it’s also here that so many iconic London symbols originate from; see the instantly recognisable Royal Guards, the Tower’s ominous black ravens, and the breathtaking Crown Jewels. Here are some of the highlights to see inside the Tower of London.
The Crown Jewels
Perhaps the biggest draw for visitors to the Tower is the chance to see these resplendent jewels up close; as a part of the Royal Collection, they’re still worn by the Queen to this day. But while these dazzling jewels – such as the Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, which is set with 2,800 diamonds – captivate those who come to pore over the display, they also act as an integral symbol of the British Monarchy, with both religious and cultural significance. The Tower of London has long held the role of protecting these jewels.
The White Tower
As one of London’s most significant historic structures, the Tower of London’s White Tower is said to be among the most important ancient buildings in the world. With its tumultuous past, and having been built to instil fear in the lawless, the White Tower provides a fascinating journey into London’s past. Step inside to see inside the 1078 AD Chapel Royal of St John, visit the Royal Armouries, and see where the torture of prisoners like Guy Fawkes once took place.
Yeoman Warders, more commonly known as Beefeaters, are undoubtedly among the most famous sights in the capital, having long been an image people associate with London. This should come as no surprise considering these distinctively dressed guards have acted as the Royal Bodyguard since 1509, with the origin of this tradition dating back even further. Today, these Yeoman Warders, who have each earned their position by serving honourably in the armed forces for at least 22 years, lead visitors on tours of the Tower of London while regaling guests with tales of its history.
One of the more curious sides to the Tower’s past is the legend that if six of the resident ravens ever leave the fortress, the kingdom and Tower will fall, so to uphold this tradition a number of ravens – who are fed a diet of raw meat, biscuits and blood by the Raven Master – are kept at the Tower, and can easily be spotted around the precinct.
The Wall Walk
It’s the sturdy Norman wall encircling the Tower that all visitors first see when they arrive. And it’s this impressive structure that has protected the Royalty within the Tower since Henry III refortified the site in the 1200s. The best way to truly appreciate the magnificence of the fortification is by following the Wall Walk trail. This walk leads visitors between the Medieval Palace and seven towers, including where the Royal Beasts – a collection of exotic animals – were kept over 600 years ago.
See the Tower of London before the crowds arrive by joining the Evan Evans London in Style tour. Step back in time as you uncover the stories behind this fascinating site, before continuing on your tour, with a panoramic trip on board a vintage red London bus, and a visit to Westminster Abbey. At the Abbey, indulge in a traditional afternoon tea, then finish the day on a high by looking out across the city from the London Eye.
Image credits: Cover photo of the Tower of London © iStock / photo75. A Beefeater at the Tower of London © Flickr / Shawn Spencer-Smith. An archer statue at the Tower of London © Flickr / Tammy Young Heck. The Tower of London after sunset © Flickr / DavideDAmico. A view over the Tower of London © Flickr / DncnH.