London is the capital of the United Kingdom and the largest city in the European Union.
It is one of the world's most important business, financial, and cultural centres and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion and the arts contributes to its status as a major global city. Central London is the headquarters of more than half of the UK's top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and more than 100 of Europe's 500 largest companies
Culturally, London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; the historic settlement of Greenwich; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church.
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Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837. It evolved from a town house that was owned from the beginning of the eighteenth century by the Dukes of Buckingham. Today it is The Queen's official residence, with 775 rooms. Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, areas of Buckingham Palace are opened to visitors on a regular basis. The State Rooms of the Palace are open to visitors during the Annual Summer Opening in August and September. They are lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection - paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.
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Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms
The Churchill Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms share premises in Horse Guards Road opposite St. James's Park in central London, England which are part of the basement of what is now HM Treasury. The War Rooms were constructed in 1938 and were heavily used by Winston Churchill during World War II. Engineered as a bunker, the facility was equipped with a steel-reinforced "roof". However, the Cabinet War Rooms were vulnerable to a direct hit and were abandoned not long after the war. They were opened to the public in 1984 and are now maintained by the Imperial War Museum.
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HMS Belfast, is one of the two ships forming the final sub-class of the Royal Navy's Town-class cruisers, the other being HMS Edinburgh. Belfast is now a museum ship in London.HMS Belfast served throughout the Second World War, playing a leading part in the destruction of the battle cruiser Scharnhorst, and also the Normandy Landings. In service with the Royal Navy until 1965, she was saved for the nation in 1971 as a unique reminder of Britain’s naval heritage.
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Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is a museum in London featuring military vehicles, weapons, war memorabilia, an extensive library open to the public Monday to Saturday, a photographic archive, and an art collection of 20th century and later conflicts, especially those involving Britain, and the British Empire. The museum is partially funded by the government, but also relies on individual contributions and revenue generation through retailing, licensing income and other commercial activity. The Imperial War Museum houses a large collection of oral recordings of interviews with people who were affected by war in the 20th Century. The sound archive has been used for a series of radio programmes and books, called Forgotten Voices, about war in the 20th century, including Forgotten Voices of the Great War and Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust.
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The London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, is an observation wheel that was completed in 1999 and opened to the public in March, 2000. As of June 2007, it is the largest observation wheel in the world, although there are larger ferris wheels, such as The Star of Nanchang. The London Eye has become the most popular paid for UK visitor attraction, visited by over 3.5 million people a year. The London Eye stands 135 metres (443 feet) high on the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames in London, England, between Westminster and Hungerford Bridges
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National Gallery, The
London's National Gallery, founded in 1824, its elegant dome and graceful colonnades, dominating the north side of Trafalgar Square, houses a rich collection of over 2,300 paintings from 1250 to 1900. The collection, which is especially noted for its holdings of works from the High Renaissance and Impressionist ages, belongs to the British public: entry to the main collection is free, although there are charges for entry to special exhibitions.
The National Gallery has grown to be a collection of international renown, despite having been founded without an existing royal collection on which to build. It was shaped mainly by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which comprise two thirds of the collection. Although small in comparison with other national art collections such as the Louvre, the National Gallery is notable for covering a broad art-historical scope with paintings of consistently high quality, making it possible to trace every major development in Western painting from the Early Renaissance to the Post-impressionists
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National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery primarily located in St Martin's Place, off Trafalgar Square in London, but with various satellite outstations located elsewhere in the UK. The gallery opened to the public in 1856. It houses portraits of historically important and famous British people, selected on the basis of the significance of the sitter. The collection includes photographs and caricatures as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture. Not all of the portraits are exceptional artistically, although there are self-portraits by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds and other British artists of note.
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Natural History Museum, The
The Natural History Museum is one of three large museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London (the others are the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum). Its main frontage is on Cromwell Road.
The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology. The museum is a world-renowned centre of research, specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Darwin.
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The Science Museum now holds a collection of over 300,000 items, including such famous items as Stephenson's Rocket, Puffing Billy (another early locomotive), the first jet engine, a reconstruction of Francis Crick and James Watson's model of DNA, some of the earliest remaining steam engines, a working example of Charles Babbage's Difference engine, and the first prototype of the 10,000-year Clock of the Long Now. It also contains hundreds of interactive exhibits. A recent addition is the IMAX 3D Cinema showing science and nature documentaries, some of them in 3-D. Entrance has been free since 1 December 2001.
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Tower of London
The Tower of London is often identified by the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. However, the Tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two parallel rings of defensive walls and a moat. The Tower's primary function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison (particularly for high status and royal prisoners, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I). This last use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower" (meaning "imprisoned"). It has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armory, a treasury, a zoo, a mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
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Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A) is on the corner of Cromwell Gardens and Exhibition Road in South Kensington, west London. It specialises in applied and decorative arts. Entrance has been free since November 22, 2001, following a short period when the British Government had imposed first voluntary and then compulsory charges.
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The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, which is almost always referred to by its original name of Westminster Abbey, is a mainly Gothic church, on the scale of a cathedral (and served as one from 1546 - 1556), in Westminster, London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English monarchs.
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