Big Ben, London - 2020 (Photos & Reviews)

About Big Ben

London’s iconic clock tower, Big Ben is one of the city’s renowned landmarks known for its gigantic bell and accuracy. The bell alone weighs 13.7 metric tons, usually associated with the entire clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is one of London’s most sought-after attractions, which looks splendid after dusk when the clock faces of the tower are illuminated. 

Big Ben was formerly known as St. Stephen’s Tower until 2012 and then it was christened Elizabeth Tower on the auspicious event of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It marked the celebration of 60 years of the British throne. 

The clock hands measure 9 feet and 14 feet long and rise high around 320 feet, which is a sight to behold for tourists visiting London from all parts of the world. Big Ben stands proudly over 96 metres, and you need to ascend 334 steps to reach the
belfry, the part of the clock tower in which the bells are installed. You will also need to climb 399 steps to the Ayrton Light right at the top of this imposing tower in London.  Ayrton Light is the lantern at the top of Big Ben, which is lit when the House of Parliament sits after dark. 

Sir Edmund Beckett Denison designed the iconic clock with the collaboration of Sir George Airy and Edward Dent, the clockmaker. Edmund’s prime contribution was a unique gravity escapement, which imparted unparalleled accuracy to the Big Ben.

How to Reach Big Ben



Reach Big Ben by bus, tube, or train. You can also reach Big Ben from Central London via several bus routes 12, 88, 87, 148, 159, 453, 793, or 717, a couple of which are the famous double-decker buses of London. 
Tourists can also take trains, especially the South Western and Southeastern Railway.

If you would like to avail the Tube, you will find Westminster Station just down the street, less than two minutes’ walk from the iconic Big Ben. The District, Jubilee, as well as Circle lines all halt at the station.

You can also opt for a bicycle tour to take a tour of the city, a pocket-friendly and fun way to see the best of London, including Big Ben. Since the iconic clock tower is in Central London, you can also explore other tourist attractions such as Houses of Parliament as well as Westminster Abbey, which are close to Big Ben. 
You can also travel by cab or drive your car and get to Big Ben from Central London.

What Not to Miss at Big Ben

 


There are quite some places to explore near Big Ben, London including: 

1. Westminster Bridge- 
Take a leisurely stroll with your family or friends down the bridge for some splendid view in all directions. Be in awe of the Strand, Parliament, London Eye, and South Bank while appreciating the smells and sounds of London that makes it so inimitable. 

2. Westminster Abbey- 
Attend the service at Westminster Abbey, which is open for the public to worship. View that spot, where England’s rulers have been crowned for many years. You will also be delighted to see the spot where Kate and Will exchanged their sincere vows. 

3. Cavalry Museum- 
Take delight in watching soldiers busy with their horses in this 18th-century stables through a glazed partition. You can also know about their challenging training in this cavalry museum.

Activities to Do near Big Ben



You can do numerous things at and near Big Ben. These are: 

1. Take a tour of Westminster- 
Westminster is one of the key tourist hotspots and a perfect place for sightseeing. You can choose the guided walking tour, i.e. Royal London Tour most days a week. Besides, you can take the GPS-led audio tour anytime you like. Westminster also boasts of Harry Potter sights and you can tour these places as well. 

2. Thames River cruise- 
You can take a tour of the River Thames and take boat rides. There are several boat cruises you can pick from including Tourist Cruises, Hop-on-Hop-off Cruises, Lunch and Dinner Cruises, and SpeedBoat Thrill Rides. 

3. Visit the London Dungeon- 
Experience numerous morbid historical events at the London Dungeon through exciting rides, interactive displays, and some amount of gallows wit or humour.

Other Essential Information About Big Ben



- Location:
Big Ben is situated in the Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, United Kingdom.

- Timings
: Big Ben’s guided tours are conducted each Saturday all through the year opening from 9.15 am until 4.30 pm. During the months of July and August, the tours take place each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The timings are from 9.15 am to 4.30 pm. On Wednesday, the timings are from 1.15 pm to 4.30 pm. 

Parliament has a recess for a period of three months during summer and also for Christmas and Easter holidays. 

- Entry fee
: The ticket price is £15 for adult tourists, £10 for students, £37 for families, and £6 for kids aging 5 years-16 years. However, children below five years can visit for free.

- Height
: Big Ben, London stands tall at 315 feet, which is 96 metres. 

- The number of floors
: Big has 11 floors right up to the belfry. 

- Distance from London City Centre
: The distance of Big Ben from London City Centre is 0.5 miles through A3212 and 0.7 miles through Northumberland Avenue and Victoria Embankment A3212. Big Ben is just two minutes from Central London. 

History of Big Ben 



The formal name of Big Ben is Elizabeth Tower, which was built as part of Charles Barry’s design, who was a British Architect responsible for reconstruction of the Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament. He rebuilt it after a fire breakout damaged major portions of the Old Palace in 1834.

Charles Barry followed a neo-gothic style and raised the new structure for Big Ben after consulting Augustus Pugin, the designer of this landmark. During this period, Barry was the chief architect of the New Palace. The design of the clock tower was Augustus’s last work before the architect descended into insanity and finally passed away. 

The bells of the clock tower were replaced in April 1858 and the people of London could hear the clock chiming for the first time in July 1859. Again, in September 1859, the impressive clock tower bell cracked owing to its enormous weight and therefore, it was taken out of charge. However, the bell was modified to include a lightweight hammer in 1859.

The great clock is undergoing renovation currently, which would cost millions of pounds and take at least four years until completion since August 2017. The clock will not chime during the period of restoration, the longest time that it has remained silent in its history of 158 years. The clock will not chime until the year 2021 except for special occasions like New Year and Remembrance Sunday. The 150
th anniversary of the iconic Big Ben was celebrated with great delight and gusto on May 31, 2009.

Places to Eat near Big Ben 



If you are a foodie, then try visiting these restaurants near Big Ben:

1. St. Stephen’s Tavern- 
This restaurant is just down the street from Parliament towards the north, where Winston Churchill used to drink in those days. The eatery serves traditional pub menu with meat pies, sandwiches, as well as chips all through the day. 

2. London Marriott County Hall- 
The hotel is a convenient place to eat down the Westminster Bridge from the iconic Big Ben. It serves continental dishes in a casual ambiance together with several conventional dishes of England, including local sausages and fish and chips. Get an expansive view of London from the Rotunda Lounge while savoring light sandwiches. Do not miss out on the Library Lounge for some afternoon tea with your loved ones, while taking in the beauty of Big Ben right from here. 

3. Westminster Arms- 
It’s a popular pub and wine bar, the upper stairs serving tourists and politicos and the downstairs is a quieter place, called Storey’s Wine Bar with a complete menu.


Places to Stay near Big Ben



You will find plenty of places to stay near Big Ben including: 

1. Conrad London St. James- 
The place is less than five minutes’ walk from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. The property features modern spacious rooms with en suite bathrooms, mini-bar, large 42-inch flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, Nespresso machine, and of course a restaurant. 

2. Corinthia Hotel London- 
Make your stay enjoyable at this luxurious hotel, just minutes from London’s Whitehall and Trafalgar Square. The hotel boasts of AC rooms with LCD TV, iPod docking station, free Wi-Fi, plush bathrooms, classy restaurants, two bars, and even florist services. 

3. The Sanctuary House Hotel- 
It’s situated in Westminster and less than five minutes’ walk from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. The grand Victorian hotel boasts of modern AC rooms with flat-screen TV, tea and coffee making amenities, contemporary en suite bathroom, free Wi-Fi, and a restaurant.  

Medical Facilities near Big Ben



You will find some of the best hospitals near Big Ben. In case of any medical emergency, you can choose from St. Thomas’ Hospital, University College Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital, the London Clinic, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and more. These medical facilities have trained doctors, nurses, and friendly, helpful staff. 

Travellers' Tip before visiting Big Ben



There are a couple of tips to follow before you visit Big Ben. These are: 

1. Take walking or bus tours if you want to visit this iconic landmark of London. You will find many guides, who will tell you about the history of the place. 

2. If you would like to take some nice photographs, take shots of Big Ben from the Westminster Bridge nearby. 

3. If you would want to see the inside of Big Ben and climb to the top, plan your visit in advance. 

4. Car parking is not easy because Big Ben is located in Central London. The nearest car parking space is approximately one-third mile off at Great College Street and other parking lots at Westminster Bridge Road and Abington Street.
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People Also Ask About Big Ben

  1. Why is Big Ben called Big Ben?

    The name Big Ben was initially given to the Great Bell: christened after Sir Benjamin Hall, who supervised the set up of the Great Bell. It’s also believed that Big Ben was named after Benjamin Caunt, the British heavyweight boxing champ of the country. Then, the iconic Big Ben is the nickname of the Great Bell.
  2. Why is Big Ben famous?

    Big Ben is famous for its great historical and architectural significance and therefore, considered the most sought-after and outstanding landmark to see in London. The iconic structure has 334 steps that you can climb to get a splendid view of London. It stands as a symbol of the British Parliament, and the clock gives the most accurate time in the world. Big Ben makes headlines even when the chimes are off by just two seconds in a year.
  3. What happened to Big Ben?

    The iconic Big Ben was rebuilt after a fire breakout that damaged a massive portion of Westminster Palace in the year 1834. The Great Bell first peeled after the clock tower underwent reconstruction in 1858. The original clock tower bell cracked soon after it was set up and subsequently replaced by a new bell in the year 1859.
  4. Is Big Ben the biggest clock in the world?

    The Great Bell housed in the four-faced tower of London is the highest clock tower in the world. The clock was the largest in the world at the time when the same installed in the mid 19th century. However, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia has the largest clock face in the world.
  5. Can you go inside Big Ben?

    No, usually you cannot go inside Big Ben because you won’t be permitted to do so unless you are a British resident. If you have citizenship, you will need to get in touch with a Member of Parliament for arranging a tour inside Big Ben. You must contact them at least six months before, and only then, you’ll be allowed to ascend the 334 steps and learn about the astounding mechanism of Big Ben. If you are a tourist, you can only appreciate the beauty of this iconic structure from outside. However, as a visitor, you can visit the inside of the Houses of Parliament to witness the committee hearings.
  6. When Big Ben last repaired?

    The last repair and renovation of Big Ben took place between 1983 and 1985. Currently, the tower is undergoing repairs to preserve the same, improving the facilities, as well as ensuring its structural integrity for the time to come. Big Ben will recommence its usual tolling and striking in 2021 after the renovation work is complete.
  7. How much does it cost to repair Big Ben?

    The estimated repair cost of Big Ben was £29-£45 million in 2016 considering the complexity or intricacy of the project. However, lately, the actual repair and renovation costs have doubled to £61 million, according to the parliamentary authorities. Conservation of the clock tower has increased to millions of pounds than previously projected.
  8. How accurate is Big Ben?

    Based on the reports by BBC, Big Ben is running up to six minutes late as per Ian Westworth, clocksmith. The iconic clock tower is characteristically exact to within two seconds of the original time. Westworth describes Big Ben’s behavior as unpredictable, of late.
  9. What is Big Ben's real name?

    The original name of the iconic Big Ben, London was the clock tower; however, it was christened Elizabeth Tower in the year 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, marking the completion of 60 years of her rule.
  10. Why did they stop Big Ben?

    The iconic Big Ben’s chiming stopped on August 21, 2017, for a period of four years to allow repair and renovation of the clock tower. The bells were silenced to ensure that the workers working on this tower do not suffer from any hearing problems. However, Senior Member of Parliaments as well Theresa May, Prime Minister criticized this decision.
  11. How loud is Big Ben?

    The decibel level of Big Ben is 118 approximately, which is deafening enough to cause hearing problems. A hammer of 200 kg strikes the tin bell and copper to make that bell chime. The tin bell weighs approx 13.7 tons, however, it produced a tuneful note ‘E’ while it’s struck.
  12. Was Big Ben bombed in World War II?

    Yes, the Commons Chamber received a major hit by an extremely explosive bomb. Even the wood hammer-beam roof of the old Westminster Hall was set ablaze by descending explosives. William Rufus constructed the 600-year Hall by in 1097 and again rebuilt by Richard II in 1399 and 1401 when the hall caught fire due to falling incendiaries.
  13. How long will Big Ben be silent?

    The iconic Big Ben will not chime for four years due to repair and conservation work since August 2017. The clock will not chime until 2021 except for special events and festivities like New Year and Remembrance Sunday.
  14. Is Big Ben being renovated?

    Yes, Big Ben has been under renovation since August 2017. It would remain silent until 2021 because of a four-year repair and renovation programme to conserve the iconic London landmark.
  15. Why is Big Ben so special?

    The Elizabeth Tower and the Houses of Parliament, commonly known as Big Ben is one of the most iconic landmarks in London as well as a coveted tourist destination in Britain. After its completion in 1859, the clock was the largest and most exact four-faced chiming and striking clock in the world.
  16. Does Big Ben feature a pendulum?

    Yes, it has a pendulum bob weighing 203 kg and each pendulum period is two seconds. The overall weight of this pendulum is 299 kg. The pendulum within the clock tower is protected in a wind-resistant area and beats every two seconds.
  17. Who built Big Ben?

    Augustus Pugin, the British architect, built Big Ben and constructed this iconic landmark following a neo-Gothic style. It was built to serve as the standard clock in London.
  18. How was Big Ben made?

    Big Ben was built using materials brought from all over England, especially cast-iron girders procured from Regent Canal Ironworks. Besides, Cornish granite and Yorkshire Anston stone were used to build the tower exterior. Again, a foundry in Birmingham supplied iron-roofing plates for building the roof of this iconic landmark.