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Time for the Big Chimes of Big Ben, London

Published by Courtney McConnell, Writer

Country: United Kingdom

The Experience

Stepping out of the London Underground at Westminster, you may be caught off guard by the sheer size of Big Ben as it immediately confronts you. Although it may seem child’s play to take a photo of such a looming stationary subject as one of the world's largest clocks, it actually involves some photographic tact and maneuvering.

Neighbouring the former Palace of Westminster, which was destroyed in 1834, Big Ben was included as part of the new Westminster rebuilt in 1844. Big Ben first rang out over London on May 31, 1859, but the bells cracked just two months later. Rotated and replaced with a lighter hammer, this is the bell we hear today.

The name “Big Ben Clock Tower” is really more of a mishmash of names and references. Typically, people refer to Big Ben as the entire clock tower, when in fact it is only the nickname for the largest bell that rings out on the hour. The formal name for the big bell, although rarely used, is the Great Bell. Surrounded by four smaller bells, Big Ben is eight feet in diameter and weighs 13 tons. While most believe it's the heaviest bell in Britain, it's really in third rank behind Great Paul in St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Great George in Liverpool Catholic Cathedral.

The origin of the name Big Ben is believed to be linked to the name of the original commissioner, Sir Benjamin Hall, who was a larger man, endearingly known as "Big Ben". Over the years, the familiar tune of the Big Ben clock chimes has become a well known identity of London, and people have even created their own lyrics to go along with it. The most popular among those lyrics is, "All through this hour, Lord be my guide; and by thy power, no foot shall slide.”

While Big Ben Clock Tower is a popular attraction in London, the entire area surrounding it is rich in history and culture. A walk across the street will take you to Westminster Abbey; and a twenty minute walk through the St James Park will lead you to Buckingham Palace. Listening to Big Ben on the hour is a great starting point for any cultural experience in London.




When to Go to Big Ben Clock

Peak tourist season in London is during the summer months of July and August. This is typically when the weather is at its warmest. If you wish to avoid peak season, a good time to visit Big Ben is during the spring or fall. Although spring and fall weather is mild, it is the dampness that can make all the difference. London weather can be very unpredictable, so be prepared for rain or shine.

Odds n' Ends

The Big Ben Clock Tower is not open to the general publish; but if you’re a UK resident, you can write your MP to arrange a visit.

Walk over Westminster Bridge for the best view of London's Big Ben (Big Ben and the House of Parliament in one eyeful).

Carpe Diem! Book to do this experience now!

Customize your own tour by hopping on and off the bus at any stop, as many times as you like. There's a choice of sightseeing ...
Starting from $29.62 per person.


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Language Guides

French , Hindi , Italian , Japanese , Mandarin , Portugese , Turkish , Vietnamese are some of the languages spoken in United Kingdom. If you know of a freely available phrase book or podcast for one of the missing languages, let us know!


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