Big Ben in London is one of the most prominent symbols of England. Rich in history and symbolism, it is one of the major tourist attractions in the country. The name refers to the bell in the Clock Tower. Its actual name is Great Bell. It does not refer to the tower or the clock.
How to Get There
The Clock Tower is at 87-135 Brompton Road, London. From your hotel, you can get a cab and head to the said address. If you are availing of a travel tour package, your provider will take you to the site. You can fly in to London directly as well.
What to See
All tours start at the foyer of the Portcullis House reception place. The whole tour lasts about an hour and 15 minutes. This includes the climb and ascent to the tower. Throughout the tour, a guide will be present.
Children below 11 years of age are not allowed. Also keep in mind that people 11 to 18 years old must have an adult accompanying them. School groups must have two adults with them minimum.
History of Big Ben in London
In 1834, a large fire severely damaged the parliament. Following this, numerous proposals were raised on how to rebuild it. Charles Barry proposed that a giant clock be constructed. The clock was designed by Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airey. Why the name Big Ben was chosen for the bell is unclear.
The first instance of the bell tolling took place in 1859. It took 18 hours to install. It was carried to the site on a cart pulled by 16 horses. The bell is 7 meters in diameter and weighs 5 tons. To be tolled, a 200 kg hammer is used.
A tour of the Cock Tower is free. Under no circumstances should you be charged. Residents of England should get in touch with one of the House of Lords or their local MP for a tour arrangement. Due to high demand, it is recommended to book 3 to 6 months in advanced. Currently, tours of the Clock Tower for overseas visitors are not available.
Tours of Big Ben in London are at 9.15 am, 11.15 am and 2.15 pm. It is open Mondays to Fridays except for Bank Holidays. Each tour can have a maximum of 16 individuals.