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.

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.

Big Ben bell
© steny02 / Shutterstock

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.

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.

Big Ben
© ansharphoto / Shutterstock

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.

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 clock
© lunamarina / Shutterstock

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 at night
© Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock

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.

Биг-Бен на карте

Big Ben - attractions nearby

Entrance tickets & Tours

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from1675
Central London Sightseeing Private Helicopter Flight
4 reviews
Take an extended, 40 minutes stunning trip from Redhill Aerodrome, heading south over Gatwick Airport to Brighton before navigating the South Coast eastbound towards Seven Sisters and turning North again over the South Downs on the return to Redhill
40 minutes
Free cancellation
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from1675EUR
40 minutes
Free cancellation
Book now & pay later
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from795
Luxury Range Rover at Your Disposal in London Including a Chauffeur
1 review
Enjoy a Range Rover at your disposal during your visit to London. Whether it’s for a business trip, sightseeing, or a shopping day out, explore London with ease with this private 8-hour chauffeured Range Rover . Hop aboard your vehicle at your London hotel then spin through the city streets with a private driver. Discover diverse corners of the capital such as Chinatown, Piccadilly, Soho, and the West End, and explore on foot at your leisure. Perhaps hit popular landmarks like Festival Hall, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye, and plan your route to take in the attractions of most interest.This is a great chauffeured service perfect for small families that are visiting London and want to go shopping or take tours.
8 hours
Free cancellation
Book now & pay later
from795EUR
8 hours
Free cancellation
Book now & pay later
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from52
London Thames River High-Speed Small-Group RIB Cruise
55 reviews
Combine London sightseeing with a white-knuckle speedboat ride on a 50-minute Thames River cruise. Board your modern RIB (rigid-inflatable boat) and soak up the unparalleled views of top city attractions including Big Ben, the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral. Learn about the city’s history from your entertaining guide, and then feel your adrenaline rush as your skipper pulls back the throttle and you rocket along the Thames River at speeds of up to 35 miles (56 km) per hour. Small-group experience with numbers limited to 12 people.
50 minutes
Free cancellation
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from52EUR
50 minutes
Free cancellation
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from250
3 hour Classic Tour of London
1 review
Why get lost on a bus of 50+ people when you can have your own private tour of London for up to 6 people. Not only is it a private tour but it is with a genuine London Taxi Driver. We can tailor your tour to suit you, picking you up from anywhere in Central London.
3 to 7 hours
Free cancellation
Book now & pay later
from250EUR
3 to 7 hours
Free cancellation
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Hotels near Big Ben

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Marylebone Apartments
from 153 $
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Kings Cross Apartment
from 170 $
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Angel Apartments
from 172 $
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Metro Residence Victoria
from 117 $
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Leicester Square & China Town Apartments
from 159 $
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Piccadilly Circus Stylish Studio Apartment
from 229 $
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Oxford Street & Carnaby - Soho Abode Apartments
from 224 $
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Soho & Covent Garden Apartments
from 147 $
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The Glasshouse
from 120 $
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Notting Hill - Concept Serviced Apartments
from 109 $
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Church Way
from 306 $
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Mystay Hemans Streets
from 150 $

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