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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
London Travel Guide
London Travel Guide and London Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
'England's Capital'

Located in the southeast of England, on the River Thames, it is the capital of the United Kingdom (UK) and has been the centre of its political, cultural and business life for centuries. The now sprawling metropolis is a far cry from the few dwellings that first sprouted up to house river traders during their voyages towards the sea. It was the Romans who really jump started the city, by establishing ‘Londinium’ as an important fortress town, guarding the Thames and protecting against any Celtic tribes trying to invade the untamed island. The Romans brought with them forts, roads and the rule of law, prompting the historian Tacitus to boast of an AD60 city ‘filled with travellers and a celebrated centre of commerce.’

Over the centuries, London has expanded, despite the many dangers that might have defeated a lesser place – the Great Plague, the Great Fire, the English Civil War and even a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But most recently London and its citizens survived the German Luftwaffe attempts to bomb the city to oblivion during the World War II ‘Blitz’.

Nowadays, the scale of Greater London can be daunting at first, as it sprawls 1500sq km or 580 square miles across a voluminous plain. However, it is a city that is easy to get around, with the comprehensive and easily navigated London Underground or ‘Tube’. The twin axis on which the city rests is the Houses of Parliament to the west and the City of London to the east. The seat of government (not far from the home of the royal family) is connected to the City (the financial centre of London and the whole of the UK) by the River Thames. In between lie most of the tourist attractions and the liveliest different entertainment areas, such as Knightsbridge and Soho. But London’s charm stretches far beyond the Circle Line – the Underground route that rings the inner city. Residential areas outside the city centre, such as leafy Richmond (southwest) or Hampstead (north), trendy Hoxton (east) or Notting Hill (west), each have their own character.

And as the population of London pushes towards the ten million mark, the city continues to grow and thrive. Home to 37 immigrant groups, each consisting of more than 10,000 people where some 300 languages are spoken. This very real multiculturalism is evident on every street and many restaurants and is a key reason why people love the city.

Tourists come for London’s history or London’s royal pageantry but they return for the charms of the modern London, not least the extraordinary cultural life, with world-class art galleries and theatres, nightlife, film, music, culinary and fashion scenes. The city skyline is the place where the London’s rapid change and optimism is most visible – the Docklands and the City (with its now famous ‘Gherkin’ tower) have shot up over the past few years.

During the summer months , London’s many green spaces fill up with office workers and tourists enjoying the surprisingly balmy days as café tables sprout across a multitude of pavements. During the winter, the grey skies and rain can be forgotten for a while in the cosy pubs. But spring or autumn are probably the best seasons to visit, when clear crisp sunny days often illuminate London and its landmarks.