Landmarks of London: Palace of Westminster

Tunde FolawiyoThe Palace of Westminster stands amongst the most recognisable structures in all of central London, serving as a meeting place for the UK’s two houses of parliament. Most commonly referred to as “House of Parliament”, the structure stands on Middlesex bank on Westminster’s River Thames. Whilst it has undergone a series of changes throughout its rich history, its original style has been preserved in hopes of continuing its long-held ceremonial purposes. Tunde Folawiyo and others with an appreciation for the city of London may regard the spot as one of the city’s most beloved historical landmarks. Centuries after its establishment, it continues to serve a great purpose in the social structure of the U.K.

The first of the two palaces that have bared the Palace of Westminster name was first built during the 11th century. It served as the residence of England’s rulers until a fire in 1512 destroyed a large portion of the building. Once it was restored, it began its role as Parliament’s meeting place during the 13th century. Centuries later, a larger fire destroyed the House of Parliament that had been rebuilt. Only a few structures survived the event. An 8-acre area of the rebuilt palace was recovered from Thames, providing the structure’s principal façade, a 266-metre river front.

The palace’s reconstruction was designed by Charles Barry utilizing Perpendicular Gothic styling. He was aided by a Mr. Augustus Pugin, another of Gothic architecture’s foremost authorities. The construction began during 1840, taking thirty years to complete due to a series of delays including the passing of both of the project’s leading architects. The Palace has undergone a series of changes since then, with extensive repairs following WWII. Air pollution in London has also affected the palace, with major work done to reverse these harsh effects. Today, the palace boasts over 1,100 rooms, 3 miles of passageways and 100 staircases amongst many other unique characteristics. The four-story structure is filled with bars, dining rooms and libraries with the top floors dedicated for use as committee gathering rooms and offices. The palace also features interiors designed by a collaborative effort between Pugin, J.G. Grace and others. Today, the Palace stands at the epicenter of the U.K.s political scene. “Big Ben” is amongst one of the world’s most recognisable structures, attracting millions of tourists each year. Tunde Folawiyo, featured in Maestro media, and others with an appreciation for the city of London may regard the palace as a prime example of London’s rich history.


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