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20 Facts About London

Updated on March 21, 2017
One of the biggest cities in the world and the biggest city in Europe, London is a vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis.  The capital of England and the home of the British royal family, the city was founded by the Romans and named by them Londinium.
One of the biggest cities in the world and the biggest city in Europe, London is a vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis. The capital of England and the home of the British royal family, the city was founded by the Romans and named by them Londinium. | Source

London is one of the world's biggest and most famous cities.

The capital of England and the biggest metropolis in the Europe, London was founded by the Romans, who named it Londinium.

The city hosts millions of international visitors each year and oozes culture and history.

Below are 20 facts about London.

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

— Samuel Johnson

1. The city was founded by the Romans, who named the city Londinium.

2. The population of Greater London was 8,673,713 in 2015.

The largest city in England, the UK, and indeed Europe, London has been an important hub since Roman times.  Over eight and a half million people live in the city, creating a vibrant and cosmopolitan hub.
The largest city in England, the UK, and indeed Europe, London has been an important hub since Roman times. Over eight and a half million people live in the city, creating a vibrant and cosmopolitan hub. | Source

3. London is the largest city in Europe.

4. The city is the capital of England and the UK.

5. London is home for the British royal family with the queen's official residence being Buckingham Palace.

London is home to the British royal family and the official residence of the queen.  It is located in central London and used for hospitality for visiting international guests and dignitaries.  The working palace has 775 rooms.
London is home to the British royal family and the official residence of the queen. It is located in central London and used for hospitality for visiting international guests and dignitaries. The working palace has 775 rooms. | Source

6. In 2016 the city was named as the sixth most expensive city in the world.

London has a complex and advanced transport system to help its eight and a half million occupants to get around. As well as the famous red buses, the city has an underground train system, nicknamed "the tube" by locals.
London has a complex and advanced transport system to help its eight and a half million occupants to get around. As well as the famous red buses, the city has an underground train system, nicknamed "the tube" by locals. | Source

“London is a roost for every bird.”

— Benjamin Disraeli

7. Tower Bridge was opened on June 30th 1894 by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII). The bridge is both a suspension bridge and a drawbridge, which takes 61 seconds to raise. The bridge cost £1, 84,000, which is the equivalent of over £100 million in modern money.

Often wrongly confused with London Bridge, Tower Bridge is an iconic structure that was built in 1894 by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), costing £1, 184,000 at the time.  The bridge is a drawbridge and takes 61 seconds to open.
Often wrongly confused with London Bridge, Tower Bridge is an iconic structure that was built in 1894 by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), costing £1, 184,000 at the time. The bridge is a drawbridge and takes 61 seconds to open. | Source

8. Many famous historical figures have lived in London over time, including: Voltaire, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Jimi Hendrix, Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi, Karl Marx, Vincent Van Gogh, and Sigmund Freud.

The famous Dutch artist, Vincent van Gogh lived in London, moving to 87 Hackford Road, Stockwell in 1873.  It was a happy time for Van Gogh, successful in his job, his sister-in-law later described it as the best year of his life.
The famous Dutch artist, Vincent van Gogh lived in London, moving to 87 Hackford Road, Stockwell in 1873. It was a happy time for Van Gogh, successful in his job, his sister-in-law later described it as the best year of his life. | Source

9. In 2014 London received more international visitors than any other city in the world, more than 16 million in total.

10. London has the largest concentration of higher education in Europe with 43 universities.

11. A cosmopolitan city, more than 300 languages are spoken within London.

12. The London Underground was built in 1864 and is the oldest underground railway system in the world. It is known in London as the Tube. Ironically, 55% of the underground is not underground.

Source

13. Numerous items have been accidentally left on the Tube by Londoners, including a samurai sword, a stuffed puffer fish, a human skull, and a coffin.

"The lowest and vilest alleys of London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."

— Arthur Conan Doyle

14. London's famous buses were not always red. Buses were coloured variously according to their route before 1907.

15. A little known fact is that "Big Ben" is not the name of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, but the bell.

Big Ben is the nickname for the bell of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, known as the Elizabeth Tower since 2012.  The tower was completed in 1859.   Clockmaker Ian Westworth described it as “the prince of timekeepers".
Big Ben is the nickname for the bell of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, known as the Elizabeth Tower since 2012. The tower was completed in 1859. Clockmaker Ian Westworth described it as “the prince of timekeepers". | Source

16. All Hallows by the Tower, near Tower Hill, is the oldest church in the city. It was founded in 675. The undercroft has Roman pavement dating back to the 2nd century A.D.

17. The city was the first place in the world to have a public zoo. London Zoo opened in 1828 and was originally intended to be for scientific study.

London has the world's oldest scientific zoo.  It is located at the northern edge of Regent's Park.  The zoo opened the first Reptile house in 1849, first public Aquarium in 1853, the first insect house in 1881 and the first children's zoo in 1938.
London has the world's oldest scientific zoo. It is located at the northern edge of Regent's Park. The zoo opened the first Reptile house in 1849, first public Aquarium in 1853, the first insect house in 1881 and the first children's zoo in 1938. | Source

18. Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto in a room over the Red Lion pub on Great Windmill Street.

Karl Marx lived in London.  He wrote the Communist Manifesto and other works in the city.  He often worked in the British Museum Reading Room.  Marx died in Hampstead in 1883 and is buried in Highgate Cemetary not far from his final home.
Karl Marx lived in London. He wrote the Communist Manifesto and other works in the city. He often worked in the British Museum Reading Room. Marx died in Hampstead in 1883 and is buried in Highgate Cemetary not far from his final home. | Source

"I drive a motorbike, so there is the whiff of the grim reaper round every corner, especially in London."

— Benedict Cumberbatch

19. The last execution at the Tower of London took place in 1941. German soldier Josef Jakobs was the last person to be killed there.

20. Marble Arch was built with the intention of being the entrance to Buckingham Palace, but was never used. There is a tiny office inside that was used as a police station for a time.

London is a cultural hub, offering excellent restaurants and pubs, as well as museums, art galleries, and theaters.  The music scene is vibrant and there is always plenty to do.
London is a cultural hub, offering excellent restaurants and pubs, as well as museums, art galleries, and theaters. The music scene is vibrant and there is always plenty to do. | Source

Brief History of London

  • The city was founded by the Romans. They named it Londinium.
  • In 1014 the Saxons tore down London Bridge using boats and ropes.
  • The city was called Lundenwic during the Saxon occupation.
  • The Great Plague of London took place between 1665 and 1666. An estimated 100,000 people died over a period of 18 months, nearly a quarter of London's population.
  • In 1666 the Great Fire of London broke out. It is estimated to have burned down the homes of 70,000 of the City's 80,000 residents.
  • 30,000 Londoners were killed during the London Blitz in WWII. Many homes and buildings were also destroyed.

London came under a sustained bombing campaign by the Germans during WWII, known as the Blitz.  Many Londoners were killed and many more were made homeless. The air war between the RAF and the Luftwaffe was known as the Battle of Britain.
London came under a sustained bombing campaign by the Germans during WWII, known as the Blitz. Many Londoners were killed and many more were made homeless. The air war between the RAF and the Luftwaffe was known as the Battle of Britain. | Source

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