London is the capital of Great Britain, its political, economic and commercial centre. It is one of the largest cities in the world (together with Tokyo and New York) and the largest city in Europe.
The city is very old. It has more then 20 centuries old history. Once, London was a small Roman town on the north bank of the Thames, but slowly it grew into one of the world's major cities with population of about 8 million. Fewer people live in the centre now, but the suburbs are still growing.
Traditionally London is divided into several parts: the City, Westminster, the West End and the East End. They are very different from each other.
The city is the oldest part of London, it's financial and business centre. Numerous banks, offices and firms are concentrated here including the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange and the Old Bailey. Few people live in the City but over a million come to work here. Two masterpieces are situated within the City: St. Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London. St. Paul's Cathedral was built in the 17th century by Christopher Wren. The Tower of London was built in the 11th century. It was used as a fortress, a palace and a prison. Now it's a museum.
Westminster is the aristocratic official part of London. It includes Buckingham Palace where the Queen lives and the Houses of Parliament stretching for nearly 1000 feet along the north bank of the Thames. The Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament is famous for its big hour bell, known as "Big Ben".
Westminster Abbey is the place where coronation of nearly all kings and queens has taken place. Many of them are buried here as well as some other famous people of the country (G. Chaucer, Tennyson, Newton, Ch. Dickens, T. Hardy, R. Kipling, etc.).
The West End is the richest and most beautiful part of London. It is a symbol of wealth and luxury. The best hotels, restaurants, shops, clubs, parkland houses are situated there. English aristocracy lives in this region. One of the busiest streets in the West End is Oxford street. There are many various shops in it which attract - customers from different countries of the world.
By the day the whole of London is busy. At night, the offices are quiet and empty, but the West End stays alive, because this is where Londoners come to enjoy themselves. There are two opera houses here, several concert halls and many theatres, as well as cinemas, and in nearbySoho the pubs, restaurants and night-clubs are busy half the night.
Trafalgar Square is the geographical centre of London. It was named in the memory of Admiral Nelson's victory at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The tall Nelson's Column stands in the middle of the square.
Opposite the Nelson's monument is the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. They contain the finest art collections in the world. Not far from the National Gallery is the British Museum famous for its rich library (about 7,000,000 books).
One of the most popular museums in London is Madame Tussaud's. Almost every visitor has seen Madame Tussaud, an old lady of 81 standing at the entrance of her own exhibition. She is made of wax, like all the models of people in the museum. Madame Tussaud's brings together a host contemporary celebrities from many different walks of life during many centuries. Kings and queens, politicians and military leaders, presidents and writers, scientists and musicians, actors and actresses stand, sit and lie in many different rooms of exhibition. The history of Madame Tussaud's goes back over 200 years during which time the exhibition has formed an integral part of experience of countless million of visitor to London.
The East End is an industrial district of London. There are many factories and the Port of London there. The region is densely populated by working class families, those people who have built the palaces of the West End. Old residents of the East End are proud to be called cockneys, which means true Londoners, hereditary inhabitants of the area. They love the district very much.
London is situated on the river Thames. A hundred years ago, the river was crowded by ships, leaving for Java and Japan, New Zealand and New York, but now people travel by air, and London's main airport, Heathrow, is one of the busiest in the world.
The London Underground is the oldest one in the world. The first line, opened in second middle of XIX century, was like a tube. That's why it was called the Tube.
Like all big cities, London has streets and concrete buildings, but it also has many big parks, full of trees, flowers and grass. Sit on the grass (you're allowed to!) in the middle of Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, and you will think that you're in the countryside, miles away.
London is one of the world's most enjoyable capital of Europe.