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The Tower of London

The Tower of London may be one of the oldest edifices in the city, but it continues to pack in crowds because of the grisly history of the major historical figures that found themselves imprisoned and later killed there. The Tower of London is considered the most thoroughly haunted building in all of Britain. People have seen every manner of ghost in the Tower - headless bodies, decapitated heads, mysterious anachronistic soldiers, intense unearthly cold spots, clattering chains, and moaning matrons. The visage of the Tower, despite its current state, still gives visitors a morbid sense of discomfort and fear, as if there were a vague memory of its imprint in our collective intuition of history. The Tower of London is a fascinating place to visit, even if it does tend to lean to the grotesque side of English history.

The Tower is not merely one structure – it is actually a complex network of structures that resemble a small town within a city. The oldest is the White Tower which was begun by William the Conqueror, after which rulers added other towers, gates, and walls. Originally, the Tower was considered part of the Royal abodes, before it later became something of a prison for well-to-do captives.

The Tower is full of macabre remnants of the various famous and not-so-famous individuals who languished in its cells. Sir Walter Raleigh spent 13 years in the Bloody Tower before he was executed. You can still read the last messages scratched by terrified inmates on the walls of the Beauchamp Tower. Probably the most famous and notorious feature is a plaque located in the spot at Tower Green where many of the Tower’s Royal victims were executed – Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Sir Thomas Moore, and the 4-day queen, Lady Jane Grey.

Many people also visit the Tower to take a peek at the famous Crown Jewels – definitely the most popular attraction at the site. The Crown Jewels are located in the Jewel House, where some of the globe's most precious stones are on display – in cases, set into robes, swords, scepters, and crowns. The most famous crown on earth is also on display - the Imperial State Crown which was made for Queen Victoria in 1837. The Crown is still worn today by Queen Elizabeth II when she opens Parliament. What makes the Imperial State Crown the most famous in the world? Its opulence is beyond compare – it’s studded with over 3,000 jewels, most of which are diamonds. Individual stones on it are famous on their own as well - it includes the Black Prince's Ruby, worn by Henry V at Agincourt. Another famous article is the Royal Sceptre with Cross, which features the 530-carat Star of Africa, one of the largest diamonds ever discovered.

The Tower is much more than an antique royal palace; it has also served as a fortress, a prison, an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, and briefly even as an astronomical observatory. The White Tower holds the Armouries and a ghoulish display of torture instruments and execution accoutrements that illustrate the grisly history of antiquated justice.

About the Author: Wayne Armstrong is the owner of the City Visits network of travel related websites, of which the London Visits site is a part. You can use the fascinating array of information on theses websites to plan an unforgettable trip to the famous city of your choice.

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