Upon exiting the tube stop for Tower Hill, this was the first thing I saw: the Tower of London.
William the Conquerer began building "The White Tower" in the 1070's.
(The best way to view these photos is to click on one and then move through them in while they are in a larger size.)
The crosses in the wall you see are called arrow-slits, thin apertures in the wall through which archers can shoot arrows.
The grassy area is what was once the moat. When the tower was built, there were no skyscrapers or tall bridges. It was meant to be an intimidating presence perched right on the banks of the Thames.
It's said that you could smell the tower before you could see it, though. Moats didn't hold the freshest of water!
Starting the trip at the tower was a perfect introduction to London. There was no build-up, only immediate immersion.
The Tower Bridge is just beyond the fortress.
I'll share more about the bridge another time, but it's quite impressive, is it not?
It is 800 years younger than the Tower of London, by the way.
Hardly what we think of as a modern structure, but age is relative.
The contrasts that seem to flow flawlessly throughout the landscape of London is part of what makes experiencing the city stay fresh and interesting.
Before London was the city it is today, it had to become the world force that it was.
The Tower is home to countless suits of armor for horses and men, weaponry, and cannons.
Armor of Henry VIII (The one with all the wives, many of whom he had murdered.)
Armor of Henry, Prince of Wales, around age 13.
The Tower was home to the National Mint and of course held prisoners, some of whom were grotesquely tortured.
It was sometimes difficult to take photos inside the buildings because the castle wasn't exactly light and airy. (This winding staircase contained windows.)
Also, there were times when photography was either not permitted or felt disrespectful.
Check out the hands on the spokes of the wheel of this ceremonial cannon.
This tower contains the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Photos were strictly prohibited but here's a glimpse of the interior. I liked this area way more than Jonathan did. The opposite was true for viewing rows and rows of cannons, though.
Members of the Royal Guard are stationed at the Tower of London and live and work inside it's gates.
Some areas, like this beautiful row of administrative offices, are restricted to government officials and employees only.
I loved the bright blue doors and red geraniums against the old brick.
I'm not going to do an exhaustive post on the history of the Tower of London (there are videos on Netflix if you're interested), but another fact I'll mention is that it was also home to a zoo for many years.
When foreign dignitaries visited, they often brought exotic animals as gifts. They had lions, elephants, eagles, and many, many more.
Officials decided to create a menagerie for the Tower's visitors to enjoy. In leu of an admission fee, visitors could bring a dog to feed the animals.
The polar bear was tied to a rope and let loose to swim in the Thames and hunt for fish!
The Tower of London has evolved countless times over the years, yet still remains timeless.
Although it is no longer the imposing force that it once was, its importance in Western history can never be erased.
(Walking along the Thames by the Tower)