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Big Ben

Top Tourist Spot in London


Big Ben is the 13 ton chime bell that hangs at the top of the 316 feet long clock tower that is located at the north end of Westminster Palace or the House of Parliament. The tower as a whole is popularly called as Big Ben. The tower was built in 1288 and after many centuries, in 1859, the bell rang out its first chime. It is the biggest of all four faced chiming clocks in the world and ranks third as the tallest free standing clock tower.

All the clock faces have six shields above them portraying arms of St George, St George as the Patron Saint of England, Flag of England and London as the Capital City of England. The four dials are 55 metres above ground and are set in an iron frame supporting 312 pieces of opal glass. The clock dials measure 2.1 square metres with the minute hand 4.2 metres long and each number 61 centimetres high. The base of the dials have a Latin inscription which means ďO Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First".

The Most Iconic London Film Location


The specialty of the clock is its movement. The timing is accurate on all the four dials and a very few times one dial has gone wrong. The bell chimes were first captured by BBC in 1923 and from then BBC broadcasts Big Benís bells to indicate the time to listeners. The clock has become a symbol of the UK and London in the visual media. The clock tower is the focus on New Year celebrations and Remembrance days. The chimes are tuned in radio and TV stations. Big Benís symbolic light glows when the Parliament is in session. The chimes and image are used by ITNís News at Ten, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and ITV News bulletins. Big Ben has its appearance in films and on postcards and some movies include Mars Attacks, Shanghai Knights, Thunderball and The Avengers. It has been voted the Most Iconic Film Location in London.

Big Ben is open only for the UK residents and not for overseas visitors. Local residents walk up through the 334 steps and enjoy a seventy five minutes tour. On all working days, there are three tours and sixteen people are accommodated in each tour. Children under eleven years and people with health problems are not permitted. London Waterloo subway and tube station are the nearest ones to reach Big Ben. Buses and taxis pass by the Tower and hence transportation facilities are good.
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