Charles Barry’s spiky masterpiece forms a delicately jagged silhouette along this stretch of the Thames, overlooked by the iconic gold face of Big Ben, and lending itself to perfect reflections. You can attend debates at the House of Commons for free, though these can be dry affairs. It may require a one- to two-hour wait outside St. Stephens Gate. If you’re a UK resident, apply for tickets for Prime Minister’s Question Time via your MP or a Lord for a spicier show. The oldest part of the building is Westminster Hall (1099), which you’ll see as you enter to view a debate. Apply in writing, and you can also get a free tour of Big Ben, which is well worth the effort of putting pen to paper.
Next door, Westminster Abbey is a feast of Early English Gothic, having been mostly constructed around the 11th to 13th centuries, and its interior is packed with jewel-like chapels, monuments and magnificent tombs commemorating a who’s who of British greats. Henry VII added a chapel—with circular vaulting so soaring it will make you dizzy—in the 17th century.
Attractions & Landmarks
- Nearest Train: Westminster