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Лондон (История Лондона, Районы Лондона) / London (the history of London, main parts of London)

London

London is the capital city of England and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Today it is one of the world’s most important financial and business centres and one of the largest cities in the world.

London is situated on the river Thames, which is suitable for navigation all the year round.

London is a cosmopolitan city. People of different races and nationalities, cultures and religions live there. It is quite natural that over 300 different languages are spoken here. London itself and its suburbs make up Greater London and its population is about 11 million people. Greater London territory covers an area of 1865 square kilometres and is twice as big as the territory of New York though its population is almost twice smaller. The size of the city impresses even those people who were informed that the city is really big.

A great number of places of interest attract attention of tourists from all over the world.

London is an international transport point with five international airports (Heathrow is the main one) and a large port.

Residents of London are referred to as Londoners.

Some facts from the history of London

London is an ancient city. It was founded more than twenty centuries ago. When the Romans began invading the country it was a small village.

The Romans built London, which they called Londinium. It was a large and rich city with clean streets, beautiful palaces, shops and villas. The word "Londinium" is probably of Celtic origin meaning "lake fortress". You may be surprised why a lake fortress, because you know that London stands on a river but not on a lake. It is true but during the tide in the sea the waters of the river Thames covered almost the whole territory where the town was standing on a great lake except for a high hill which was not covered with water and was chosen as a place where the first fortress was built. It was first made of earth and then of stone. The line, where the walls of this fortress were became the boundary of the City of London.

Nowadays, when the Queen makes ceremonial visits to the City, she stops at Temple Bar Memorial (it used to be the Temple Bar Gates that showed the boundary of the City at Westminster side) to receive the right of entry from the Lord Mayor. This memorial is crowned with the Griffins that guard the City of London.

In the 5th century the Romans left Britain, but other invaders came to the British shores. They almost ruined the city and it remained in this poor state for almost 400 years. Only in the 9th century the Saxon kings began to rebuild the city. They started building of Westminster Abbey.

In the 17th century London suffered two awful tragedies, the Great Plague in 1665 and the Great Fire in 1666.

The Great Fire happened through carelessness of a young baker who left a small bundle of wood near a very hot oven. In medieval City of London the buildings were wooden. The houses were burning like paper. In a few hours this fire destroyed 3,000 houses and at least 97 churches. Fortunately, the wind soon stopped and then heavy rain fell. Thus, London was saved.

In order to commemorate this terrible catastrophe the Londoners erected a monument. It is now called simply the Monument. The Monument’s height (61.5 metres) is equal to the distance between the Monument and the bakery at Pudding Lane where the fire began.

Four main parts of London

London consists of four parts which differ from one another:

  • the City
  • Westminster area (or the City of Westminster)
  • the West End
  • the East End

The City of London known as "the City" and the City of Westminster are the most ancient parts of it. These parts seem to belong to different towns and epochs.

The City of London is the birthplace of London. It was a place of the original Roman settlement and later commercial and trading centre. Meanwhile, Westminster was outside London’s walls and became England’s administrative capital after its transfer from Winchester in the 11th century. When the first English Parliament was called here in the 13th century the Westminster area was a separate City of Westminster.

So, London has no obvious centre, because it grew out of two formerly distinct cities.

Central London includes the West End, the City of Westminster and the City. This area is roughly bounded by the Underground Circle Line (the British call their underground "the tube").

They say, the City is "the money of London", the West End is "the goods of London", the East End is "the hands of London".

The City

The City is often called the commercial and business heart of London. This is the area with lots of banks and offices. Every morning there are many clerks in suits hurrying to their offices. Very few people live there. Only some five thousand people live permanently in the City today, but nearly a million works there. In the day-time the streets of the city are crowded but late at night they are deserted. It is known as "the Square Mile" (its total area is 2.59 sq km = 1 sq mile).

The Royal Exchange, the Stock Exchange, Mansion House (official residence of the Lord Mayor), the Central Criminal Court ("The Old Bailey") and the Bank of England are in the City. In front of the buildings of the Bank there is a monument to the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo and brought fame and glory to England.

In the centre of the City there is the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The Tower of London is one of the most ancient buildings in London with very long history. For over 900 years the Tower has been a fortress and a royal palace, a prison and a place for execution, an arsenal, royal mint, menagerie and a safe for Crown Jewels. Now it is a museum.

The Tower of London had never had a chance to serve as a fortress and to resist an enemy’s attack.

The Tower does not belong to the City historically. This fortress was built by William the Conqueror at the end of the 11th century. He built it right at the Gates of the City to keep the unruly Londoners in fear.

Later the kings began to use it as a royal residence. They used to spend a night before coronation there.

In the centre of the Tower of London there is the famous White Tower which is the most ancient part of the Tower and the oldest building of London. William the Conqueror built it right away after his successful invasion. It is not white of course, it became dark with age. Its walls are four metres thick and now this building is a museum.

The Tower is also known as Bloody Tower because it once became a state prison and a place for executions for the greatest political leaders of the country. Among them were Sir Thomas More — great scientist was beheaded there, Sir Walter Raleigh — the famous sea captain spent more than twelve years in its walls. Lady Jane Grey, who was the Queen of England for several days, was also kept here.

Only the ravens of the Tower remind of those dark years. Ravens have lived at the Tower of London for hundreds of years. There are six of them, according to the order of King Charles II. The state donates the money to feed the birds. All the visitors must be careful as the ravens are not tame and they do bite.

The ravens are taken particular care of because there is a legend that Great Britain will keep its might and glory until the ravens leave the Tower. If the ravens disappear, Great Britain will face a great tragedy. The Tower is guarded by the Yeomen Warders, who are often called "Beefeaters". They are dressed in traditional medieval clothes of Tudor times. They work as guides and tell this story to the visitors. The name "Beefeater" is thought to originate from a French word "Buffetier". Buffetiers were guards in the palace of French kings and were responsible for the food in the palace. They are best known for their scarlet and gold dress uniforms which are worn on state occasions. They used to be monarch’s private bodyguards. The buffetiers also used to guard the Tower and its prison.

Old traditions and ceremonies are kept up in the Tower of London. One of them is the Ceremony of the Keys. Every night for the last 700 years at 21.53 the Tower has been locked up in the Ceremony of the Keys. The chief Yeoman Warder locks various doors ceremonially. At the ceremony the Chief Yeoman Warder comes out with a bunch of keys and an old lantern. The sentry calls: "Halt! Who comes there?" The Head warder replies: "The Keys". "Whose keys?" — asks the sentry. "Queen Elizabeth’s Keys" is the answer. After that the sentry says: "Advance, Queen Elizabeth’s Keys. All’s well."

Not far from the Tower of London there is Tower Bridge — a masterpiece of engineering skill. Tower Bridge was built at the end of the 19th century to match the medieval style of the fortress. This bridge is opened to let big ocean ships move up the Thames from the ocean. The territory between the Tower and the bridge is called the Pool for that reason.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is in the centre of London and is considered to be an architectural masterpiece.

After the Great Fire the City had to be built again. The commission of six architects was organized for the rebuilding and Sir Christopher Wren was the most talented of them. This architect drew a plan which greatly determined the look of today’s London though it was not realized in every detail. It was forbidden to build wooden houses in the City of London.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was the greatest work of Sir Christopher Wren. It is one of the largest churches in the world. Sir Wren was building the Cathedral for 35 years, completed it in 1711, and his aim was to build a church that could rival the great St. Peter Basilica in Rome. St. Paul was built of white stone as well as many other buildings in the City of London. But smoke and soot made the stones black and only the columns and edges were washed by the rain and remained white. That is how the building got its peculiar white-and-black look.

On top of St. Paul’s Cathedral is a high dome, which contains the Whispering Gallery, where whisper can be heard at a great distance.

Fleet street is famous all over the world as the centre of British news services.

Barbican is a district of the City of London. Nowadays Barbican is one of the most beautiful districts of London. It is also famous for the Barbican Centre. The Barbican Centre is an enormous complex which contains two theatres (the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Symphony Orchestra), an art gallery, three cinemas, two restaurants and two exhibition halls.

The City of Westminster

Westminster area is also called the City of Westminster. It is the most important part of London, where Parliament and most government offices are located.

Westminster Abbey is regarded as the centre of this area. They say, the City was founded here near the monastery as far back as the 7th century.

In the 11th century King Edward the Confessor decided to build a great abbey church there. It was a monastery for a long time.

William the Conqueror was crowned there and since then many kings and queens of England followed this tradition. There is the ancient Coronation Chair beneath which there is the Stone of Scone (the ancient Scottish Coronation Throne that was brought to England by King Edward I as a sign of defeat of Scotland.

Many English kings and queens and other famous statesmen, writers, scientists are buried in Westminster Abbey. Among them there are two queens rivals Elizabeth I Tudor and Mary Stuart, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. It is famous for the Poet’s Corner, where most popular writers (Kipling, Chaucer, Hardy, Dickens), poets and musicians are buried.

Opposite Westminster Abbey there are the Houses of Parliament, which are often called the Palace of Westminster (or Westminster Palace). Westminster Palace was built in medieval days. It was a place of royal dwelling as early as the 11th century, which later became the meeting place of Parliament. It was destroyed many times by fire, and the foundation stone of the new Houses of Parliament was laid in 1840.

It is a beautiful building with two towers. In the north part of the Houses there is Victoria Tower. It is 104 metres high and the national flag is hoisted on its top when the Parliament is sitting. In the southern part of the building there is its clock tower, St. Stephen’s Tower with the famous Big Ben. St. Stephen’s Tower is more often called Big Ben, which is actually the name of the largest bell on the clock tower and a part of the Great Clock of Westminster. Its official name is the Great Bell of Westminster. It is 13.5 tons. The origin of the name belongs to Sir Benjamin Hall, the chief Commissioner of Works, when the Houses of Parliament were rebuilt in 1850. Sir Benjamin Hall was a very tall and stout man. His nickname was "Big Ben".

Parliament Square in front of the Palace of Westminster is famous for the monuments to great British statesmen. There is a monument to Oliver Cromwell and a monument to Winston Churchill.

Whitehall, the governmental street, begins from Parliament Square. Most British ministries like the Admiralty and official residences are situated here. The British Government itself is often called Whitehall.

Downing Street is very small and is usually associated with Whitehall. Downing Street (House №10) is the official residence of British prime ministers.

Down the Whitehall Street there is not less popular street called the Mall, the straightest and the broadest street in the central part of London. Once the Mall has been an alley and the King played ball on it. The French name of this ball game — "pall-mall" — gave names to two neighbouring streets: Pall Mall and the Mall. The Mall is now the front entrance to the Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace (the Palace) is the official London residence of the Queen and the Royal family. When the Queen is at the residence the flag is flying on top of Buckingham Palace. It was a country residence of the Duke of Buckingham. But in the 19th century it was rebuilt for King George. The square in front of the Palace is decorated with Victoria Memorial built in 1911. The Changing of the Royal Guard is the ceremony that you can see in front of Buckingham Palace. It dates back to the 17th century. The ceremony takes place every morning at 11.30 and lasts for 30 minutes. It is a real theatrical performance. The Queen’s Guards wear traditional uniforms and tall black fur caps called "busbies".

Trafalgar Square is the geographical centre of the British capital. The square was named "Trafalgar" to commemorate Admiral Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. There is the monument in the centre of the square known as Nelson’s Column. Around the monument there are four bronze bar-reliefs, representing scenes of Nelson’s life and death. The statue is guarded at the base by four bronze lions. Nelson was killed in the battle but the victory was won. The English consider Admiral Nelson to be a national hero for his victory in the war against Napoleon.

The National Gallery (a great picture museum) is situated on Trafalgar Square. It contains a wonderful collection of works from the British, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish schools, which existed between the 13th and the 19th centuries.

Scotland Yard is the name of the police headquarters and the police itself.

Fleet Street is associated with British newspapers and is located between Westminster and the City.

The West End

The West End it is not far from the City and is a part of Westminster. Life never stops in the streets and squares here. The West End is a symbol of wealth and luxury. The best hotels, the most expensive restaurants, clubs, theatres, cinemas, casinos, shops and supermarkets are located here. It is also full of museums and art galleries.

The parks are probably the main attraction of the West End. They occupy the most part of its territory. They say, if gardens and parks are "lungs" of a city, Londoners must have good health. There are many lawns in the parks where people lie or sit about.

They say it is not difficult to make a real English lawn: one should mow and water it every day for one hundred years and the lawn is ready! Easy, isn’t it?

Hyde Park is the largest and the most popular of the London parks. This park is famous for its Speaker’s Corner which attracts a lot of tourists. Here people of different beliefs and persuasions can say what they want for those who want to hear it. Marble Arch is also here. It was built to commemorate Lord Wellington’s victory over Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo.

Next to Hyde Park there is the famous luxury department store which is called Harrods.

Kensington Gardens is also one of the biggest parks.

St. James’s Park is one of the royal parks. Here you can see pelicans called "Royal Pelicans". It is located right next to Buckingham Palace.

The Regent’s Park is famous for London Zoo which is considered to be one of the biggest zoos in the world.

Piccadilly Circus is the heart of the West End and is the centre of entertainment. It is a famous square which is a meeting point of six streets. It is called "circus" because of its shape. In the middle of Piccadilly Circus there is a graceful statue of Eros. Piccadilly Circus is beautiful with enormous advertisements.

Soho is one of the districts located in the West End (between Regent Street and Charring Cross). The legend goes that in old days there were green fields in this place which were good for fox-hunting. When a hunter saw a fox, he cried to the dogs "So-ho!" and they rushed after the fox. Now the district of Soho is famous for its remarkable restaurants, pubs and night clubs.

There are some other famous streets.

Harley Street is the street where the highest paid doctors live.

Regent Street is best for shopping.

Charring Cross is a famous street of bookstores.

Oxford Street is considered to be the busiest street in London.

The West End is also very popular for its museums.

The British Museum is the best-known national museum of antiquities and ethnography. It is famous for its library and reading halls.

The Tate Picture Gallery on Mill bank is another famous museum. It is the redeveloped bank side Power Station. Its collection contains pictures by English masters of the 19th century and the works of West European classics and modern artists (Picasso, Monet and Warhol).

The old district of Covent Garden is also a museum and a great fair at the same time. It is also a theatre district. The famous Royal Opera House (home of both Royal Ballet and Royal Opera) is here but you can see all kinds of theatrical performances right in the squares of the district.

A short distance to the north there is Baker Street. It is the location of Madame Tussaud’s Museum, which is famous for its collection of waxworks. The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street contains a representation of the fictional detective’s apartment.

Three of London’s largest museums — the Victoria & Albert, Science and Natural History, and the Royal Albert Hall are also here.

Another new attraction in the area is the London Eye — a Ferris wheel, which at 137 metres is the world’s tallest one, offering good views from its enclosed capsules.

The East End

The East End used to be a purely working district where working-class families lived. We still can find a great number of factories, workshops and docks there. But now the docks are being renovated. For example, St. Katharine’s Dock, close to Tower Bridge, is now an attractive marina surrounded by wine bars and restaurants.

The East End is in many ways the "real" London. Those who live in the East End are often called Cockneys, i.e. true Londoners. They have got their own peculiar dialect and accent.

The Thames is a natural boundary between the West End and the East End of London.

Anyone visiting London for the first time and walking along the Thames Embankment may be surprised to see an original Egyptian obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle. It actually has little to do with Cleopatra at all. It has this name because it was brought to London from Alexandria, the royal city of Cleopatra.

On the south bank of the river Thames there is the South Bank Arts Centre which comprises the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall as well as MOMI (the Museum of the Moving Image), which traces the story of film and TV technology. Nearby is Queen Victoria Theatre (the Old Vic), one of London’s best known theatres. It is one of the leading theatres of the capital.


Перевод некоторых слов:

London — Лондон (столица Соединенного Королевства), Greater London — досл. Большой Лондон; территория Лондона и его пригородных районов, Westminster — Вестминстер (часть Лондона, в которой располагаются правительственные и административные учреждения), the West End — Вест Энд (центральный район Лондона), the East End — Ист Энд (промышленный район Лондона), the City — Сити (финансово-коммерческий район Лондона), the Royal Exchange — Королевская Биржа, the Stock Exchange — Фондовая Биржа, the Bank of England — Банк Англии, the Tower of London — Лондонский Тауэр (крепость-музей на северном берегу р. Темзы), Yeomen Warders (“Beefeaters”) — лейб-гвардейцы (стражи лондонского Тауэра; прозвище: “едоки говядины”), Tower Bridge — Тауэрский мост (через р. Темзу), Ceremony of the Keys — церемония ключей (старинная традиция Тауэра), St. Paul’s Cathedral — собор св. Павла, Whispering Gallery — Галерея Шепота (знаменита своим акустическим эффектом), Westminster Abbey — Вестминстерское аббатство, the Poets’ Corner — уголок поэтов (место захоронения многих известных поэтов и писателей в Вестминстерском аббатстве), the Houses of Parliament — Палаты парламента, the Palace of Westminster (Westminster Palace) — Вестминстерский Дворец (здание английского парламента), Big Ben — Биг Бен (часы на одной из башен Вестминстерского дворца), Whitehall — Уайтхолл (1. Улица, где находятся важнейшие правительственные учреждения; 2. перен. английское правительство), Downing Street — Даунинг-стрит (улица, на которой в доме №10 находится резиденция премьер-министра), Buckingham Palace — Букингемский дворец, Changing of the Guard — смена караула (у Букингемского дворца), busby — мохнатая гвардейская шапка, Trafalgar Square — Трафальгарская площадь, Nelson’s Column — колонна Нельсона (памятник адмиралу Нельсону на Трафальгарской площади), the National Gallery — Национальная галерея, Scotland Yard — Скотленд-Ярд (название центрального офиса полиции и самоЫй полиции), Fleet Street — Флит-стрит (1. Улица, на которой находятся редакции большинства крупнейших газет; 2. перен. пресса и мир журналистики), Hyde Park — Гайд-парк, the Speaker’s Corner — Уголок оратора (в Гайд-парке), Kensington Gardens — Кэнсингтон Гарден (крупный парк), St. James’s Park — Сент-Джеймс-парк (королевский парк), Regent’s Park — Риджент-парк, Piccadilly Circus — площадь Пиккадилли, Statue of Eros — статуя Эроса (бога любви), Soho — Сохо (район Вест Энда, известный своими ресторанами, барами, ночными клубами), Harley Street — Харли-стрит (1. Улица, где находятся приемные ведущих частных врачей; 2. перен. медики, медицинский мир), Regent Street — Риджент-стрит (улица, центр торговли), Charring Cross — Чаринг Кросс (улица, известная книжными магазинами), Oxford Street — Оксфорд-стрит (центральная улица делового мира Лондона), the British Museum — Британский музей, the Tate Gallery — Тейт галерея, Covent Garden Opera House — Ковент Гарден (ведущий оперный театр Лондона), Madame Tussaud’s Museum — Музей мадам Тюссо (музей восковых фигур), the Queen Victoria Theatre (Old Vic) — театр королевы Виктории (Олд Вик), Cleopatra’s Needle — игла Клеопатры (обелиск на берегу р. Темзы)


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