The Tower of London and the Thames

We headed out this morning to visit the Tower of London right when it opened at 10am. We spent about three hours there before having a quick lunch and visiting the adjacent All Hallows by the Tower church. We then crossed the Thames via the Tower Bridge and walked west by the river. We eventually crossed the Thames again via the Millennium Bridge. We missed the ferry by just a minute or two and ended our day by taking the Underground.

Tower of London

We arrived at the Tower of London via the Tower Hill Underground station. The sun was right in front of us behind the castle. It wasn’t really great for photography. We took this photo as we entered the castle from the southwest corner. In ancient times, the land in the foreground would have been a moat.

Looking to the southwest, we saw The Shard towering above the much smaller buildings around it.

Upon entering the castle’s outer wall, we opted to skip the audio tour as we rarely remember much after a few weeks. It probably ended up being a good decision as it likely would have resulted in an extremely long visit!

We took the first set of stairs leading up the outer wall of the castle.

The first structure that we entered was the living quarters for the King. He would have had many properties and would not have stayed here very often.

This room had some interesting brickwork. They are at alternating angles.

We soon entered the King’s bedroom. It is setup how it might have looked back in ancient times when the King would have actually stayed here.

The adjacent room had a small throne.

There was also a fireplace to keep the room warm as well as simulated fire sounds for modern times!

As we left the King’s living quarters, we looked down and saw the modern day exit to the castle. The castle would have been right up against the Thames in ancient times.

Looking in the opposite direction, we could see the White Tower, the keep of the Tower of London. The green structures at bottom right are small aviaries where they keep the resident ravens! They have kept ravens here since King Charles II. The superstition around them is that the Tower of London, and the monarchy, would fall if the ravens left.

We continued walking along the castle wall. On the east side, there is another wall further down as well as structures that serve as living quarters for the Yeoman Warders, the guardians of the tower. They were formerly the King’s personal guard and are currently required to have 22 years of military service.

At this point, the path led to a door that was closed. We decided to walk down to ground level to see the crown jewels. They are safely kept in a dedicated structure along with other valuable items. Unfortunately, they are being prepared for King Charles III’s coronation on May 6th and are currently being kept somewhere else. It seems the crown will be the same one used by the late Queen Elizabeth II.

There are other priceless items as well including other crowns. There are also various items used during the coronation ceremony as well as some ridiculous goldware for the party after. There is even a huge punch bowl that holds the equivalent of 144 bottles of wine, if I’m remembering the sign correctly.

Photography is not allowed in the building so there are no photos to go along with this narrative other than this one of its exterior.

After not seeing the crown jewels, we notice that the path above us was now open. We continued, heading towards the west.

Eventually, we reached the western edge and headed down to ground level.

After sitting on a bench for awhile, we noticed this raven as we headed to another building within the castle. Is is probably one of the resident ravens?

Ravens are considered to be highly intelligent birds, and we have seen ones who have learned to ask for food from cars that have people in them. This raven, however, was not interested in begging for food. It was busy playing with a small wooden stick! The raven would toss it up in the air and then try to catch it!

The Tower of London’s ravens are all Common Ravens, the same species that we have back home in the US.

This sound the raven was making is actually what first drew our attention. When we heard it from far away, we thought we were hearing a woodpecker! Eventually, we realized it was coming from this bird!

After seeing the raven and exploring one of the structures on the west edge of the castle, we headed to the White Tower. This ornate cannon is on the east side of the building.

Looking up at the White Tower as we headed to its entrance.

There is an exterior set of stairs leading to an entrance above ground. From the top of the stairs, there is a nice view towards The Shard and the raven aviary below.

The White Tower contains various artifacts from the Tower of London’s long history. There are many pieces of armor and weaponry on display. There is also a chapel within.

After exiting the White Tower, we headed down to the exit that we saw when we started our visit. We had this view of the White Tower and the entrance stairs along the way.

Upon exiting the Tower of London, we walked west along the Thames. We had a nice view of the Tower Bridge.

Looking in the opposite direction, we could see The Shard towering above everything.

We ended up back on the west side of the Tower of London. The sun was in a better place for photography! Down below are examples of some animals that were kept in the castle. Past monarchs placed all sorts of wild animals in the castle. Eventually, the remaining animals were moved to the London Zoo.

All Hallows by the Tower

After a quick lunch, we quickly visited All Hallows by the Tower. It is the oldest remaining church in the City of London.

The church is fairly small and looks more or less as one would except.

The crypt down below is open to visitors and contains various ancient artifacts. Along the way is this arch. It is from when the Roman Empire ruled England.

Down in the crypt, there are more examples of Roman construction.

The Undercroft Chapel in the crypt is best described on the church’s website.

After exiting, we took a look at the structure from the outside.

Tower Bridge

We then backtracked and headed to the Tower Bridge to ultimately cross the Thames.

We decided to just cross at road level and skipped doing the tour of the upper walkway and engine room for the lifting mechanism. The sidewalk offers fantastic views of the Thames and the Tower of London.

The Thames

Upon reaching the far side of the Tower Bridge, we headed west along the riverbank of the Thames.

We had a fantastic view of the White Tower as the sun started to lower on the horizon.

We also pointed the telephoto lens at the top of one of the towers of the Tower Bridge. The walkways between the bridge’s two towers are accessible when doing the tour.

We continued on, walking past the HMS Belfast, a World War II cruiser. Here, it is flanked by the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. The sun was sufficiently low that everything on this side of the Thames was in shadow from the adjacent buildings.

Looking directly across the Thames as we continued walking, we got a good look at the City of London.

We eventually reached the modern London Bridge. It can be best described as being just another bridge.

We failed to find the proper path to walk under the London Bridge and instead had to walk up stairs to cross at road level. The stairs were terrible in that someone decided to build them so they were at an angle.

We passed by the Southwark Cathedral as we continued walking west. Here, it is in the foreground with The Shard in the background. Quite a contrast of old and new!

We reached the Millennium Bridge around sunset. St. Paul’s Cathedral was glowing nicely on the opposite end of the bridge.

We looked back towards where we walked from. The Tower Bridge was tiny in the distance!

We noticed these red bridge pilings between the two Blackfriars bridges. They are from the old Blackfriars railway bridge before it was replaced by the modern bridge right next to it.

After reaching the Blackfriars roadway bridge, we walked to Blackfriars Station and ended our day.

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