8 Historic Old Buildings in London that You Must Visit

Old Buildings in London

“London is a glorious mess,” as the noted American author James Geary once said. This impression is probably generated by the fact that the architectural landscape of London is an eclectic blend of the new and the old. 

On the one hand, you will find striking examples of modern architecture in the form of tall skyscrapers like the Shard and the Gherkin. On the other hand, you will find historic buildings like St. Paul’s Cathedral and many other lesser-known gems whose provenance dates back centuries. 

While the modern architecture in London is impressive, it’s the historic buildings of London that most visitors are interested in exploring. And for obvious reasons.

If that includes you, here are the eight most awe-inspiring historic and old buildings in London that you must visit. 

The London Mithraeum

While the London Mithraeum may not strictly fit the definition of a fully intact building, it’s one of those places you must visit if you want a peek into London’s ancient Roman-era past. 

Located in Walbrook, London, this site contains the ruins of the Temple of Mithras, which dates back to the 3rd century AD. It was discovered in 1954 by archaeologists W.F. Grimes and Audrey Williams and has been well-preserved since then. 

Its ancientness and the fact that it is one of the very few specimens of its kind makes this place worth visiting for everyone interested in ancient history. 

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, London, UK

You may already be familiar with Westminster Abbey – also known as the royal church – due to its association with many royal events such as coronations and royal weddings. 

Widely hailed as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture in England, especially in London, this abbey was first built by the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor in 1065. 

Since then, it has hosted every coronation since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066 and has been the resting place of many monarchs until 1760. 

The remarkable architecture and the historical and royal association make Westminster Abbey a must-visit place for every visitor to London! It’s open every day from Monday to Saturday, except on religious occasions such as Easter and Christmas, when it’s only accessible to worshippers. 

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, London, England

How can a trip to London be complete without a visit to the seat of the British Crown? After all, the British monarchy is an institution that intrigues foreigners and brings millions of tourists to London. 

Buckingham Palace, one of the most noteworthy old buildings in London, is also where British people congregate during moments of national pride or grief, which is truly a sight to behold if you’re lucky enough to witness it. 

While you can appreciate the vibrant environment, events like the change of the guard ceremony, the architecture, and the views all year round, you can only enter the place during the months of August and September. That’s when the monarch traditionally spends a tranquil summer vacation in Scotland, and you can experience the regal interior of parts of the palace and marvel at some of the most exquisite works of art. 

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace, London, United Kingdom

While Buckingham Palace is the first name that pops up in most people’s minds when they think about royal palaces, many others have an equal claim to your time in London. 

One such place has to be Kensington Palace, which is notable for being the birthplace of Queen Victoria and a functioning royal residence that is open to the public throughout most of the year. So even if you miss a tour of Buckingham Palace, you can always come to Kensington Palace and have a somewhat similar experience. 

You can roam around the pleasant gardens surrounding the palace and even get access to some of the rooms and apartments within the palace. More often than not, you can also enjoy special exhibitions revolving around royal subjects. 

Entry is free for members but incurs a small cost for non-member visitors.

Palace of Westminster

Palace of Westminster, London, UK

You may have seen countless pictures of the Palace of Westminster; it’s the building adjoining the famed Big Ben tower that houses the British houses of parliament. 

As far as old buildings in London go, few edifices can match the grandeur, importance, and popularity of the Palace of Westminster. You must visit it, even if it’s to get a glimpse of the building from afar. 

If you simply want to enjoy the mesmerizing views of the historic structure along the Thames and take some pictures with it, you can simply do so from Westminster bridge. 

On the other hand, if you’re interested in deeper immersion, there are guided tours that you can partake in as well. You can check the times and book the tickets online. It’s highly recommended that you do so because tickets may be unavailable or unaffordable if you wait till the day you visit. 

The Tower of London

The Tower of London, UK

The Norman Conquest is a seminal moment in English history, and one of the most well-preserved and emblematic monuments of that event is the Tower of London. So much so that this castle-cum-fortress has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. 

Built in phases from 1078 by William the Conqueror, this complex of old buildings in London functioned as a royal residence, a fortress, a watch tower, and even a prison. It also stood as a symbol of Norman supremacy and power, and it continues to have a deep impact on the millions who visit it every year. 

In close proximity to the place which witnessed some of the most gruesome and intriguing episodes of English history, you will be left transformed as well. 

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, London, England

A stone’s throw away from the Tower of London is another landmark that can be best described as a marvel of Victorian-era British engineering. Yes, we are talking about the Tower Bridge of London, which was designed by architect Sir Horace Jones and built by engineers Sir John Wolfe Barry and Henry Marc Brunel between the years 1886 and 1894. 

While you can walk across the bridge and take pictures from the walkway free of cost, you need to buy tickets to climb the towers and enter the rooms within the bridge. It’s recommended that you purchase your tickets well in advance of your visit because they can be hard to come by at the site, especially during peak season.

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