Trying to talk about the best buildings in London is quite a tall order as there are just simply so many stunning examples of architecture. Whether you like gothic inspired churches, modern and innovative skyscrapers or you simply have an appreciation for classically constructed landmarks, there is no shortage of beautiful buildings to be found in the city.
Whilst it would be almost impossible to provide an exhaustive list of each of the amazing buildings you can find in London, we have put together just six which would be worth taking the time to visit on your next trip to London:-
St Paul’s Cathedral
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the city’s best loved landmarks and is a pretty fascinating building to boot. It is thought that there has been a church on the site since 604AD but the existing building was designed and constructed following the Great Fire of London in 1666. Many people actually placed their belongings in the crypt of the Cathedral believing that they would be safe but unfortunately this was not the case. Many designs were submitted for the rebuilding of the Cathedral following the fire but it was Sir Christopher Wren who eventually took the helm. The Dome of the Cathedral is one of the most recognisable features in London’s skyline and has a number of interesting elements, including the addition of a pineapple, something which Wren included in a number of his designs, possibly because it was thought to bring good luck. St Paul’s Cathedral is very easy to reach, especially if you are staying somewhere central such as Hyde Park accommodations and is within easy reach of a number of London’s other popular landmarks too.
Battersea Power Station
This decommissioned coal-fired power station sits on the South bank of the River Thames and is a fairly difficult building to miss. Although it hasn’t been used in over 30 years, it remains the largest brick building in Europe and is a Grade II Listed building which has long been the discussion of redevelopment plans and it is now to become a mixed-use destination with apartments, offices, restaurants and shops all due to be opened here in the next few years. Known as ‘Circus West’ this is phase one of redevelopments and will be a riverside village located between the Power Station itself and nearby Battersea Park. It is fair to say that the Battersea Power Station may not be the most attractive building to feature in the cityscape of London but it is certainly a firm favourite amongst locals and visitors alike.
Undeniably one of the most famous modern additions to the city is The Shard, a skyscraper which stands at 310 metres and has 95 floors which are comprised of offices, a hotel, restaurants, and The View from the Shard; a fantastic opportunity to see a panoramic view of the city of London from a breathtaking height. The Shard was created to be a vertical city offering a place where people could live, work and relax and it certainly fits the bill for this.
The Royal Naval College
Located on the other side of the River Thames you will find the Royal Naval College, the architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich; a part of London which is well worth visiting in its own right. From the Grand London Hyde Park Hotel you could take a boat across the Thames or travel by public transport to reach this World Heritage Site and see the grandeur of this building. The history of the existing building is fairly complex; the original building which stood on the site was demolished by Charles II who wanted to create another palace but he only got as far as overseeing the construction of one wing. When William III ascended the British throne he instructed Sir Christopher Wren to convert the building into a hospital for aging Seamen. Wren was busy with his construction of St Paul’s Cathedral however and gave much of the work to his assistant, Nicholas Hawksmoor although the much loved building which stands today wasn’t actually completed until 1742 by Thomas Ripley. The Royal Naval College is the starting point for many people when they visit Greenwich to explore and discover the rich Maritime history which can be found here and is a fascinating example of architecture on its own.
For what could arguably be one of the most recognised landmarks in the city (Big Ben and Buckingham Palace aside) you should look to Tower Bridge. This magnificent structure has been featured in many movies and television shows and is an incredibly unique piece of architecture. It is possible to explore the construction of this expansion bridge in a special exhibition inside one of the two towers as well as walk across a glass floor which allows you to look down on the people crossing the bridge and out onto the River Thames as well. The bridge is also worth admiring from a distance, particularly at night when it is illuminated. Even just walking a short distance along the banks of the River Thames will give you an admirable view of the bridge.
The Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre is a performing arts, multi-use centre in London which features a cinema, a theatre, an art gallery and plenty more. It is often the home of classical concert performances, film screenings and a regular programme of special events. However for those interested in the architecture then this Grade II listed building is one of London’s best examples of Brutalist architecture. The building took more than 10 years to build and was developed as part of a vision to transform an area of London which had been left devastated by Second World War bombings. The building itself isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing but at the time of its construction it was considered to be one of the most important architectural achievements of the 20th century.