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ST. PAULS & TATE MODERN CITY GUIDE
Marvel at St Paul’s and Tate Modern
Join Free Tours by Foot as they travel down medieval alleyways and discover hidden gems.
Here are the sites they cover on the tour:
Just before our cruise boats pass under Blackfriars Bridge there are two distinctive and rather ornate looking buildings side by side. The first is Sion Hall which was built in the middle of the 19th century. It eventually became famous as a reknowned library of religious works with some 100,000 volumes stored there. Now it is the headquarters of a financial institution. The second is the old City of London school building which was opened in 1882. Though the school itself has moved to a new site along the river, the building remains and is now occupied by the investment bank JP Morgan.
On the other side of Blackfriars, the first landmark to draw the eye is the slender structure of the Millennium Bridge (known locally as the wibbly wobbly bridge after a initial problem with it’s design led to it swaying heavily as people walked across it). As you draw level you can see how it links St Paul’s Cathedral on the North bank with the other impressive landmark on the South bank. Designed by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, at 365 feet high St Paul’s was for 250 years the tallest building in London. Inside many famous people are buried including Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. Wren who is buried here has inscribed on his tomb “If you are seeking his monument, look around you”. Climb the dome and another great view of London from above can be experienced. But be warned there are over 500 steps to get to the top. Not for the faint hearted or those who suffer from vertigo!
The big red brick building that dominates the south bank at this point is The Tate Modern art gallery. It gets it’s distinctive, and some might say somewhat ugly shape, from having originally been a power station. Now it houses an extensive modern art collection. The Turbine Hall which is it’s central gallery is one of the biggest open spaces of any art gallery in the world. As a result it has housed some amazing exhibits since it opened in 2000.
Next door is a building more modest in scale but no less significant. Round, white and with a thatched roof, it is the Globe Theatre. Or rather an exact replica of the original Globe Theatre where many of world-famous William Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. Today visitors can see those plays performed in the open air in exactly the same way as they were 400 years ago.
Having passed under Southwark Bridge, one of London’s least used bridges, you will catch sight of an old sailing ship or galleon. It is a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship the Golden Hinde. Sir Francis was a sailor made famous by his many exploits on the high seas. One of which was his circumnavigation of the globe in the original Golden Hinde. The second was his role in defeating the Spanish invasion fleet called the Armada in 1588.
Peeping over the buildings behind the Golden Hinde are the tower and turrets of Southwark Cathedral, which was completed in the Gothic style in the early 15th century and promoted to cathedral status in 1906.
Right by its side is one of London’s biggest and best new tourist attractions, Borough Market. A quick-growing passion for fine food has filled an airy space underneath soaring arches with stall holders eager to sell the finest foods of Britain, Europe, and elsewhere, whether for snacking on the run, or for taking back home as the centerpiece of a delicious meal. Restaurants have clustered around the market