The Tower of London

Visited 16 March 2006

Actually, not really that much of a tower, especially today in a huge city bristling with skyscrapers.  The Tower of London is really an 18-acre castle that started with a boxy four-story building that eventually was surrounded by several rings of fortifications -- somewhat like ripples in a pond when a rock disturbs its serene surface.  Through the years it has housed kings, prisoners, spies, and for the longest time, lions and tigers.  Today it's home to the Beefeaters, retired enlisted men, who escort millions of tourists through the grounds and talk about the 6 or so ravens that stay here because their wings have been clipped.

Here's a shot of the tower in the modern context surrounding it.  The first building (called the White Tower but now a mottled brown) appears at the right with four towers -- dwarfed by Norman Foster's modern gherkin behind it.  At lower left is the Traitor's Gate where most prisoners entered the fort during the days when London streets weren't much and most travel was by the Thames.  William the Conqueror located his first castle here to control the pool of London, a key commercial stretch that featured nearly wall-to-wall ships until shipping containers made the area obsolete in the 1960s.

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Created on 1 November 2006 -- corrected 15 November 2009

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