We’re fortunate to have our accommodations in London, a city rich in culture and history. This explains why it receives so many tourists; the BBC estimates that over 17 million individuals visited London in 2014 alone.
We’ve extensively researched the history of our nation’s capital if you’d like to understand more about the large city. Here are some fascinating facts about London, including information about the London Underground and the houses of Parliament!
1. Over 300 languages are spoken in London.
The diversity of cultures is the first item on our list of facts about London. London has over 8 million residents and is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. Its citizens speak over 300 languages, including Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, and English.
2. Big Ben is not called Big Ben.
Possibly London’s most recognizable landmark is Big Ben. Surprisingly, Big Ben is the bell’s name, while the name intended for it is “The Clock Tower.” If you ever take a tour of London, feel free to enlighten your loved ones.
3. It is not illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.
Contrary to popular misconception, passing away inside the Houses of Parliament is allowed. However, it is prohibited to enter the Houses of Parliament while wearing armor. Gov.UK reports that:
The idea that anyone who passes away in a Royal Palace is entitled to a state funeral appears to be the root of the problem of dying in Parliament. The House of Commons authorities and we have not been able to locate any such law.
3. Police never caught Jack the Ripper.
The identity of London’s most infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper, has never been established. However, a variety of people have been suspected by authorities at the time and “mystery solvers” ever since the killings, including Lewis Carroll, Prince Albert, and Queen Victoria’s physician Sir William Gull.
4. The Great Plague killed a third of Europe’s population.
A third of Europe’s population, or about 25 million people, perished in the Great Plague in the 15th century. London was particularly impacted due to the city’s congested streets and poor sanitation.
Throughout the summer of 1665, men referred to as Searchers shouted, “Bring out your dead.” They removed the dead and dumped them in mass graves. Londoners are still learning about some of them today.
5. The Tower of London houses six ravens.
Six ravens were placed in the Tower of London by Charles II as a form of security. Six ravens are reportedly still housed in the tower today. For superstitious reasons, they are required to stay there at all times. As an added precaution, they even keep a backup raven on hand if one flies away. Each raven has had a wing clipped.
6. The London Underground could have been water-based.
The tube had to be included in our list of interesting London facts. Engineers initially considered floating passengers between stations on barges or utilizing an army of horses to drive carriages through the night when the London Underground was first being considered. They decided to choose trains.
7. There were only six deaths in the Great Fire of London.
In 1666, London was ravaged by the Great Fire. Even though the fire left much of the city in ruins, just six confirmed deaths were reported. The actual number is uncertain, though, as many more people died from unrelated reasons. The 203-foot-tall stone obelisk known as the Monument honors those who died and is situated 203 feet from the fire scene.
8. Black cab drivers are tested.
A person must pass a demanding test called “The Knowledge” that requires memorizing every street in the capital to become a black cab driver. It can take years for cab drivers to learn everything. Some people even wander the entire city to store all the side streets and back alleys mentally.
9. London has an official diminutive statue.
It’s comforting to know that London has the official most diminutive statue in a city with numerous enormous statues and grand monuments. The figure of two tiny mice eating cheese, which can be found on Philpot Lane, honors two builders who lost their lives while working on The Monument due to an argument over a missing sandwich that they mistakenly blamed on one another but was the result of a mice infestation.
10. St. Pauls’s Cathedral could have looked very different.
Christopher Wren’s original design for St. Paul’s Cathedral called for replacing the iconic dome with a 60-foot-tall stone pineapple. The absence of this would have given London’s skyline a more tropical vibe.
11. The Queen lives in Buckingham Palace.
The Queen occasionally resides in Buckingham Palace despite having many other royal residences. You may see her royal flag flying from the flagpole when she is at home. Only structures where the Queen is present may fly this flag, known as the Royal Standard.
12. Cleopatra’s Needle is a time capsule.
The Egyptian artifact Cleopatra’s Needle, situated on the Victoria Embankment, was built in 1838. A map of London, a copy of the Bible, some daily newspapers, a rupee, and 12 images of the most attractive English women at the time were among the items placed underneath during this time.
13. Feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square is banned.
Thousands of feral pigeons were once known to live in Trafalgar Square, where visitors frequently feed or take pictures. Mayor of London Ken Livingstone outlawed feeding animals and selling food near the square in 2003. They even went so far as to use a hawk to keep them at bay, which worked.
14. London was home to many famous faces.
Another of our London facts is the large number of famous people who have called the city home. Like Jimi Hendrix, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Nightingale, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Sylvia Plath, Charles Dickens, and countless others. Where these people lived is now marked by blue plaques.
These are some amazing facts about London which you should know about.