When you think of palaces in London, the first name that comes to mind is Buckingham Palace, the current residence of the Queen and Royal Family. However, there is another equally majestic and awe-inspiring building known as “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress”, more simply the Tower of London. History comes alive at this unique castle, with over 1,000 years of Britain and the monarchy's past a trip to this palace is definitely going to leave you mesmerized.
The Tower of London was actually never meant to serve as a residence for the royal family although the royals did reside in it for some time. The rooms in this palace are not as opulent as those of other palaces such as that at Westminster. William the Conqueror built it to be a fortress-stronghold. The palace also served as a prison between 1100 AD and 1952 AD, although it was never meant to be one.
Back in the 11th Century...
The construction of the Tower of London began at the end of 1066 AD. However, the main block of this building called the White Tower was built in 1078 AD by William the Conqueror. The Palace gets its name from this tower. According to written records, Williams had building stones specially imported from his native Normandy.
When the building was completed in 1100 AD, all of England was stunned because the people had never seen anything so grand before. The massive structure stood 118 ft in length, 105 ft in width and 90 ft in height. Roman walls were built on two sides for enhanced protection. Ditches that were 25 ft in width and 11ft in depth were dug to prohibit unsolicited entry into the palace from the north and west directions. The tower could be seen for miles away because it completely dominated the city’s skyline.
The Tower has a keep called the White Tower, an inner ward, an outer ward and the innermost ward, among others. Over the years, the palace went through several expansions and renovations to give it the shape and grandeur we see today.
Its Amazing History
According to the biographer of William the Conqueror, he was so confident about his power that he sent an advance guard to build the fortress to mark his triumphant entry into the city. There are also stories about ghost sightings and hauntings.
Tour it with City Wonders
You can enjoy exploring the Tower of London on one of our guided tours. We organize experiences for small groups and give you headsets so that you won’t miss a word of what the guide says.
Book one of our full day London tours to experience the rich history of England with early access to this incredible masterpiece of medieval architecture!