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The sun sets on the River Thames winding its way between the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. The 210-mile river flows through several small English towns before it reaches the center of London, and eventually spouts into the North Sea. The 184-mile Thames Path, which hugs the river’s banks, is the longest riverside walkway in Europe.

(Photo by Josiah Brown (Ashland City, TN))

The setting sun shines its last rays on Tower Bridge, built east of the London Bridge in 1894. Between the structure’s majestic towers are two high-level walkways; these pathways, originally built for pedestrian use, now house a permanent exhibit on the history of this bridge and others around the world. Below these walkways is a roadway that rises to allow the passage of boats.

(Photo by Jason Gellett (Whitewood, SD))

The London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel on the banks of the Thames, was built in 2000 and symbolizes the turning of time into the new millennium. Up to 800 people can ride at one time, and more than 3.5 million visit it each year. On a clear day, a rider can see nearly 25 miles, from the high perch of the wheel’s capsules.

(Photo by Gerard Rafie (Kentfield, CA))

A few of Hyde Park’s 4,000 trees line a path through the 350-acre London park. In addition to the green space, the park also features the Serpentine Lake and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Acquired by Henry VIII in 1536, Hyde Park was originally used as a royal hunting ground for deer and wild boar. Today, visitors can swim, boat, cycle and ride horses.

(Photo by Jacque Lepard (Pontotoc, MS))

The sun sets on the Greenwich Royal Observatory in London, the site of the Greenwich Meridian Line, London’s only planetarium and the United Kingdom’s largest refracting telescope (the seventh largest in the world). The Prime Meridian, or Longitude 0°, defines the boundary between the East and the West, allowing visitors to stand in both hemispheres at once. As shown in this photograph, the observatory has a green laser that it shines at night to mark the meridian.

(Photo by Thomas Pepper (London, England))

People mill about the centrally located Trafalgar Square, marked by the towering column supporting a statue of the one-eyed, one-armed Adm. Horatio Nelson, who died in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The National Gallery is located at the edge of the square, providing a vantage point for the frequent celebrations, demonstrations and festivals that occur there.

(Photo by Zach Young (Laguna Niguel, CA))

Pedestrians walk across London’s 1,066-foot Millennium Bridge, bookended by St. Paul’s Cathedral on one side and the Tate Modern on the other. The bridge was first opened to the public in 2000 but was quickly closed because of too much foot traffic and consequent wobbling. It reopened in 2002, as the only pedestrian walkway to cross the Thames.

(Photo by Chris van de Vrande (Kingston, Ontario, Canada))

A London bus driver stands next to a pre-1986 vehicle, distinguished by its London Transport brand on the front. In 1985, London buses and bus routes were privatized, but the buses all still wear the iconic red coat of paint. More than six million people ride London buses each weekday on more than 700 routes.

(Photo by Katya Evdokimova (London, England))

Londoners and tourists alike can catch a cab to a night out at the historic Royal Albert Hall, a venue that stages more than 360 events each year ranging from classical music, jazz and pop concerts to dinners and awards ceremonies. The hall was built in 1871 at the wishes of Queen Victoria’s late husband, Prince Albert, not a king in his own right, to promote the understanding and appreciation of the arts and sciences.

(Photo by Shane Yeager (Elysburg, PA))

Pedestrians cross the Millennium Bridge at dusk toward the lit dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The sleek bridge design, by sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and the design firm Arup, Foster and Partners, was the winner of a 1996 bridge-building competition and was originally referred to as the “blade of light.” The bridge can hold up to 5,000 pedestrians traversing the Thames.

(Photo by Marius Musan (Norwich, England))

St. Paul’s Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, is the official church of the Bishop of London. The Church of England cathedral, completed in 1711, took 35 years to build and was the fourth in succession of cathedrals built on the site since the year 604. The previous building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

(Photo by Andre Santos (São Paulo, Brazil))

Clouds hover over the Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Bridge, on London’s South Bank. This area of the city is home to numerous theaters, including the Old Vic, first built in 1818 and now under the artistic direction of Kevin Spacey, as well as the Imperial War Museum and the London Eye. Visitors can reach the South Bank by taking the Tube to Waterloo station, the busiest transit station at 82 million visitors each year.

(Photo by Evelyn Frederick (Simi Valley, CA))

The hands on a clock at the Tower of London continue to turn peacefully, defying the long and bloody history of the fortress. Built in 1066 at the behest of William the Conqueror, the tower was originally a protective gateway into the Norman kingdom. During the time of the Tudors, it transitioned from being primarily a royal residence to a prison that housed Sir Thomas More, Lady Jane Grey and two of King Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, all of whom were later executed. Today, the Tower of London is a museum where visitors can view relics of the past, including the crown jewels.

(Photo by Morgan Maddux-Stone (Johns Creek, GA))

The British flag—commonly known as the Union Jack—hangs in a cerulean sky. Introduced in 1606, the centuries-old design depicts three crosses, one straight and two diagonal, to represent the patron saints of England, Scotland and Ireland. The three colors represent the three united countries, although the United Kingdom only claims Northern Ireland today.

(Photo by Michael Chiaravalloti (Amesbury, MA))

Stores occupying 18th-century buildings line a street in Highgate, a North London suburb. The expensive neighborhood is home to two art galleries and is known for its gastropubs, as well as its famous people both past and present. Charles Dickens and Lord Byron drank at the Gatehouse pub, T.S. Eliot was a teacher at Highgate School, and Karl Marx resides in the famous London Cemetery at Highgate.

(Photo by Zach Young (Laguna Niguel, CA))

Vauxhall Bridge, linking Vauxhall on the South Bank to London’s charming Pimlico neighborhood to the north, is more than a century old and stands in a prime spot on the Thames. The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tate Britain are all within walking distance of the bridge.

(Photo by Sandor Derrick (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada))

After a fire ravaged the Palace of Westminster in 1834, the 315-foot-tall Elizabeth Tower was added to the plans for the rebuilding. Big Ben—the 13-ton bell inside the tower—chimed for the first time on July 11, 1859, and today it rings every hour. There are two theories of the origin of the popular moniker. It was either named after either the tower’s heavy-set first commissioner, Sir Benjamin Hall, or the famous heavyweight-boxing champion of the time Benjamin Caunt, both of who were nicknamed “Big Ben.”

(Photo by Kristen Dempsey (Middletown, DE))

Soldiers have been standing watch outside Buckingham Palace since Queen Victoria moved there in 1837. Every day from April to July and every other day the rest of the year, the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place on the palace’s forecourt, giving tourists a taste of British royalty. The ceremony involves three officers and up to 40 men from the Queen’s Guard dressed in black bearskin hats and red coats. The free event may appear to be a spectacle with the music and marching in formation, but don’t mistake the formality of it. The guards will not walk around a stray tourist, and they are allowed to point their weapons at troublemakers as a warning.

(Photo by Thomas Gundy (Garden Grove, CA))

A Photographic Tour of London

Take a virtual tour through the streets and sights of England’s capital city with these stunning travel photos submitted to our photo contest

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