Big Ben

Big Ben

When you think about the symbols of England, the first thing that comes to your mind is the famous landmark of London – the tower of Big Ben.

What is Big Ben

Big Ben is the largest of the six bells in Westminster Palace. Many people think that it’s a name of the clock tower in London, but in fact the name refers to the 13-ton bell, which is inside of the tower behind the clock dial.

Big Ben

The official name of Big Ben was the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster. In 2012, by the decision of the British Parliament, this attraction of England was renamed to Elizabeth Tower (in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s reign).

Despite other names, the name "Big Ben" remains the most popular and is used for the general designation of the tower, clock and bell.

From the history of Big Ben

The clock tower was built in Westminster in 1288, and at that time it had a completely different look.

In 1834, a terrible fire broke out in Westminster Palace and everything was burned down. It was rebuilt by Charles Barry together with the architect Augustus Welby Pugin, who designed the present clock tower in the neo-gothic style. In 1859, when Big Ben was constructed, the mechanism for resetting the clock was initiated, and to this day it shows an exact time.

Big Ben

There are two popular versions in honor of whom the London clock was named. The first version sounds like this: the tower got its name in honor of Benjamin Hall, the one who built Big Ben, or to be more precise, who was managing the construction of it. The engineer had a rather large stature so because of it he was often called as Big Ben. Another version of the name of the clock tower refers to the popular heavyweight boxer Ben Caunt.

The Height of Big Ben

The size of the tower with the spire is 320 feet (96.3 meters). To imagine what height Big Ben has, imagine the high level of a 16-story building.

There are no elevators or lifts in the tower, that is why it is closed for intensive public use. The exceptions to the rule are made from time to time, and then the visitors should master 334 steps to go upstairs.

The Clock

The clock on the Big Ben Tower in London is the largest in the world by far. The diameter of the dial is 7 meters. The length of the arrows is 2.7 and 4.2 meters.

Big Ben

The clock mechanism is considered the standard of trueness; its total weight is 5 tons. The watchmaker Edward John Dent was responsible for the machinery assembly, on which work was completed in 1854. A fundamentally new double three-stage system was created, which allows a better division of the pendulum and five-ton clockwork.

The reliability of the clock was proved even during the Second World War when the German bombings damaged two dials and the roof of the tower but the clock did not disrupt its move. Consequently, this landmark of Great Britain has become a symbol of accuracy and reliability of all English. By the way, there is an inscription "God save our Queen Victoria I" at the bottom of each dial, which is also absolutely in the English spirit.

Big Ben Highlights

  • 13 tons - that's the weight of Big Ben (the biggest bell in Westminster Palace).
  • The London Clock is an international standard of time, and it is also considered to be the largest quadruple clock with chimes in the world.
  • The accuracy of the clock is adjusted with a coin of 1 penny (if necessary, the coin is put on the pendulum and its movement slows down by 0.4 seconds per day).
  • In the bell tower, apart from the Big Ben bell (sounding every hour), there are four more quarters that ring every quarter hour. The sound of the melody is composed of 20 consecutive Cambridge chimes; for each quarter of an hour, there is its own bell composition.
  • To the sound of Big Ben the English meet the New Year; all mournful events and moments of silence are also accompanied by the sound of the bell.
  • News programs in England start with a picture of the tower.
  • The image of Big Ben is used almost in all openings of documentary and feature films about England.
  • Once, in the tower of Big Ben, there was a prison for parliamentarians who acted violently at the meetings of parliament. The last prisoner was Emmeline Pankhurst, a political activist that fought for women's rights. In honor of her, there is a monument on the Parliament Square, where Big Ben stands.

Big Ben

Big Ben information: location & address on the map

Location: London, Parliament Square

Address: Palace of Westminster, Old Palace Yard, London SW1

The nearest tube station: Westminster on the Circle

How to get by bus: go to the Parliament Square or to the bus stop “Whitehall Street” (Trafalgar Square).

If you are suddenly tired of the imposing architecture of London, you can visit one of the first museums of Madame Tussauds, with a unique collection of wax figures.

Big Ben on London map

Big Ben - nearby attractions

London is a city where a lot of museums, exhibitions, art galleries and other cultural object are concentrated that attract tourists from all over the world. The British Museum is among those places, which is visited by millions of people every year.
Madame Tussauds was created in London in 1835 on Baker Street, and today it is located on Marylebone Road. The wax collection is constantly updated and attracts many tourists. You may find a small inconspicuous figure among all the other famous personalities in the Museum, the geniuses of the past and present years.
Probably one of the most famous bridges of Great Britain is Tower Bridge in the city of London. Its unusual appearance makes it easily recognizable: on the impressive river bents there are two towers in the Gothic style, which are connected by bascule spans and walkways.
Keukenhof Park is rightly called the Garden of Europe because only here you can see flowers of all the colors of the rainbow. This kingdom of flowers is situated in the town of Lisse that is 34 km away from Amsterdam.
Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (meaning the Heart of Christ) is an unusually beautiful Catholic cathedral, towering on the hill of Montmartre in Paris.
The Tuileries Garden is one of the oldest parks in Paris, which stretches at 1 km from the Place de la Concorde to the Louvre. The total area of the garden is 25.5 hectares.
The Musée d'Orsay exhibition includes European artists’ paintings and sculptures of the mid-XIX — early XX century. The biggest display is located in a three-story building which prior to that used to be a railway station.
Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture in Paris is a center devoted to studying and maintenance of various movements in art (painting, graphic arts, sculpture, photo art, silent cinema, music, choreography, theater, architecture, etc.).
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is an art museum, which title is translated from Dutch as “National Museum”. It's located at the Museum Square in Amsterdam and is devoted to history, arts and crafts. The exhibition consists of 80 halls on 4 floors, where all the works are set in a chronological order.
The Museum of Madame Tussauds Amsterdam is an exciting journey to the world of wax figures of well-known persons of different spheres. It is considered to be one of the most fascinating and visiting places in Amsterdam.
Here comes the Erotic Museum, one of the most intrigue sights in Amsterdam. The museum exposition is spread over the three floors of the building. Mostly the sexually explicit exhibits tell the stories involving the Red-Light District, a traditional place where the prostitutes offer their services.
The church Predigerkirche of the 13th century is one of the most significant churches in Zürich, which keeps a centuries-old history. Predigerkirche is a three-aisled temple that contains a minimum of attributes, but it always has an intense programme of events.
The Rathaus in Zürich is among the most significant cultural and architectural landmarks of the city. It is a symbol of power and prosperity of its inhabitants. This is that very building where there were the meetings of those who shaped the future of Zürich.
The Fraumünster Church is an acting Catholic church in Zürich that is notable for its centuries-long history. Moreover, the church is attractable by its glass paintings made by the well-known Russian artist Marc Chagall. His audacious compositions contributed a spirit of modernity to the old ensemble of the temple.
The Swiss National Museum was built in the 19th century. It is the largest facility in the country, which keeps a great amount of Swiss historical treasures – exhibits that tell the story of the country, in particular, the history of the development of national manufacturing, art, and craft.
The Field Marshals’ Hall, or the Feldherrnhalle in Munich, is the architectural landmark of the first part of the 19th century. The building is a great hall with arches, the height of each is 20 meters.