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.

Check out all London hotels and choose the best one for you.

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.
The Clock Tower in Brighton is the main attraction and the symbol of the English town. It was constructed in 1888 in honor of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. That’s to that, the tower received its second name - the Jubilee Clock Tower.
Museum and Art Gallery are a part of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. The building which is occupied by the collection had been initially planned to be a tennis court. However, it was not finished and used to be the military barracks during the war.
Located on the South Coast of England, the city of Brighton is one of the most ancient and charming cities in the United Kingdom. It attracts millions of tourists from all over Great Britain and various corners of the world. What’s so special about this place?
Brighton is a beautiful English seaside resort-town. The Brighton Fishing Museum is a public project implemented by the citizens with the support of the city administration. It is located on the Brighton’s waterfront, across the Ship Street, 10 minutes away from the railway station and 5 minutes away from the bus station.
Not far from the town of Bournemouth, in the South of Great Britain, can be found a charming Hengistbury Head headland. This place is of great interest to all the archeologists as it hides the signs of the settlements of ancient people dating to the stone, bronze, and iron ages.
Christchurch Castle is one of the popular tourist destinations in the city of Bournemouth. The rich history of this place attracts crowds of tourists who want to explore the historic places in Great Britain. These places are the real national property of the city. Initially, it was a wooden fortress.
The ancient Christchurch Priory Church is located not far from the city of Bournemouth. Its first building was constructed back in 800 AD. Later, a small abbey was formed, and in the XI century, the decision was made to erect a new building of the temple.
The Bournemouth Aquarium is located in the popular resort-town called Bournemouth in Great Britain. Here visitors can admire the life of marine residents in conditions which hardly differ from their natural habitat.
Compton Acres gardens are designed in four various styles. This creates an illusion of visiting various countries during your walk through the garden. Many tourists visit this place to admire a marvelous example of the landscape design which was created at the beginning of the XX century.
One of the biggest university museums in Great Britain is the Manchester Museum. Its expositions are devoted to archeology, natural history, and anthropology. The museum occupies its celebrated spot among other tourist destination in Great Britain.
Manchester Art Gallery founded back in 1884 is one of the main attractions in Manchester and Great Britain in general. A visit to Manchester Art Gallery is your unique chance to see the art in a new light.
One of the most renowned attractions in England - Manchester Town Hall - is an excellent example of architecture in Neo-gothic style with a tiny touch of early British Gothic. Experts say that the building of Manchester Town Hall is included in the top-5 significant attractions of Manchester.
Manchester is one of the biggest cities in Great Britain. This city lives its absolutely unique and bright life. Here you shall find the worldwide known John Rylands Library which is also a popular and tourist destination in Great Britain.