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Off with their heads!

Touring the Tower of London

You best come early to beat the long lines at London’s best medieval attraction, a site of intrigue, murder, and executions galore. The hour-long tours guided by Beefeater guards are highly entertaining and informative.

The tours are free, once you pay the dizzyingly high admission itself, which in 2010 was £16 ($32). You'll also want to explore more on your own, too, so count on at least another full hour to investigate the Crown Jewels, explore the White Tower, see the Armory, and such.

The Beefeaters take you past the Bloody Tower where Sir Walter Raleigh awaited execution for 13 years and where King Edward IV’s two young sons were murdered. You walk through the 900-year-old White Tower, still housing an armory of swords and plate mail, as well as a gruesome collection of torture instruments, and into Tower Green, where Thomas Moore, Lady Jane Grey, and two of Henry VIII’s wives (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) were beheaded.

All the gore should be enough trade-off for the kids when you have to wait in line to be whisked past the Crown Jewels on a moving sidewalk. As you’re whisked by the jewels, be sure to drool over the world’s largest cut diamond, the 530-carat Star of Africa (set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre), and to stare aghast at Queen Victoria’s Imperial State Crown (still worn on occasion), studded with over 3,000 jewels.

Be sure to say hello to the Tower's resident ravens hopping around the green lawns. The giant black birds are actually quite pampered pets round here because legend holds that the Tower will stand as long as they remain.

Tower Hill Road
Tube: Tower Hill
tel. 0844-482-7777



Intrepid Travel

This article was last updated in May 2007. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2010 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.