London is one of the most recognized cities in the world. Boasting a rich culture and history the city receives over 15 million visitors annually. Here are 10 interesting and fun facts about London.
London has hosted the Olympic Games three times (in 1908, 1948, and 2012) and became the first city to do so.
London’s public transit system, the London Underground, is the first and oldest underground railway network in the world. Commonly referred to as the Tube, the system includes 270 stations. Interestingly, more than half of the London Underground is not actually underground. Another interesting fact, close to 50 people commits suicide on the London Underground every year.
London is home to over 170 museums and 860 art galleries. They range in size from the colossal British Museum to smaller and less known sites. This might help explain why London is such a popular tourist destination.
Big Ben is not a Clock
Big Ben is an iconic symbol of London but what many do not know is that Big Ben is not actually the clock, but rather the bell within the clock. The bell weighs almost 13-tonnes and the tower in which it is housed is known as the St. Stephens Tower.
Driving on the Right
Drivers in the United Kingdom drive on the left-hand side of the road. However, there is one street in London where drivers must drive on the right side. The Savoy Court, which leads to the famous Savoy Hotel, made this exception so that women, who traditionally sat behind the driver on the right side, could exit the vehicle first.
So Many Languages
London is a highly multicultural city and it is believed that there are more than 300 languages spoken in London. The most popular languages besides English are Mandarin, Punjabi, Gujarati, Cantonese, and Bengali. The chances of finding someone who speaks the same language as you is very high in this multilingual city.
The Great Fire
The Great Fire of London that burned through the city for 4 days in 1666 only had six reported casualties despite burning down 13,000 homes, 87 churches, and countless buildings.
The drivers of London’s famous black cabs must successfully sit for a difficult and rigorous exam known as the Knowledge. In order to pass the exam, they must be familiar with the 25,000 streets in London, 320 taxi routes, and close to 20,000 landmarks and places of interest within London. Aspiring black cab drivers spend years preparing for this exam.
The Aldgate Station, which is part of the London Underground, is believed to be built on top of a mass grave containing over 1,000 bodies. The bodies were hastily buried there in a massive plague pit during the Great Plague.
London has some strange laws including one that makes it illegal to die in the House of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster. Even stranger, there is a law that bans the flying of kites in any street in London. It was enacted in 1847 and still stands to date.