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No single landmark is as representative of London as the iconic Big Ben. Despite its fame, the monument is shrouded in mystery – even its name is a source of misunderstanding! Here are 5 fascinating facts to take with you when you visit the British capital.
Though most assume Big Ben to be the name of the beautiful bell tower, it's actually the nickname of the largest bell hidden inside. The entire structure is called Elizabeth Tower.
Officially, the 13-ton bell is called Great Bell. The monicker Big Ben was given to honor Sir Benjamin Hall, the Commissioner of Public Works whose name is inscribed on the bell.
Big Ben's accompanying bells chime every 15 minutes, whereas Big Ben only chimes on the hour. The sound can be heard as far as nine miles away!
Big Ben was cast on the 10th of April 1858, so it turned 157 in 2015. However, it only chimed for the first time on the 11th of July 1859, which some argue is its real birthday.
Incredibly, the clock tower's pendulum still depends on pennies for its accuracy. If a penny is added, the clock will run 40% of a second faster every day, and vice versa.
The exterior of the clock tower has countless beautiful details and ornate decorations, many of which are all but impossible to see with the naked eye from below considering the tower's height of 96 meters. To really admire the tower's beauty, it's a great idea to bring a pair of binoculars.
The favorite time to listen to Big Ben is at noon, when the large bell chimes 12 times. However, it's also the busiest time of day. To avoid the crowds, it's best to come in the early morning or at night, and weekdays are less busy than the weekend.
- When to visitTours of the Big Ben tower are reserved to UK residents, however visits to the Houses of Parliament are available through the official website: www.parliament.uk/visiting/.
- What is the price?Free to check out the tower, but a tour of the Houses of Parliament building £25.00 for adults, more with added perks.
- Will I need a guide?Every hop-on-hop-off bus will pass by Big Ben, but you should look into getting a tour through Parliament in order to learn about Big Ben up close.
- How to get thereTake the District, Circle or Jubilee tube lines to Westminster, or check the bus schedules for other options.
- Additional tips
- Photography, filming and mobile phone use are prohibited inside the Parliament buildings.
What People Are Saying About Big Ben
Our Duck was running late because of London traffic but the wait was well worth it. Our trip was informative and entertaining, Matt was the guide who again added to the event with his interaction with the guests!
My partner and I took this tour a few days ago and it was a really perfect introduction to the city, with a lot of information and quirky stories. We had a great time!
We have enjoyed a pleasant walk around one of the most emblematic places in london.
the instruction ran it was optional I may only add that we enjoyed all of our activities
The only thing was that I purchased my tickets on line and down loaded the app only to have to queue at the book office. I would have though you would have a scanner to just be able to scan and avoid all of that to make purchasing the tickets on line a worthwhile option.