Exploring a few spots in London

London is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world and one of my favorite places to visit because there is always something to see and do. In November 2019, I got a chance to explore Tower Bridge and the surrounding area along the River Thames for a few days during a business trip. Here are some of the top things I was able to see and do while walking around this iconic location:

  1. Tower Bridge: Tower Bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in London, and it's a must-see for any visitor to the city. This iconic suspension bridge spans the River Thames and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. You can walk across the bridge and take in the panoramic views of London, or you can visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition to learn more about the history and engineering behind this impressive structure.
  2. Tower of London: Just a short walk from Tower Bridge, the Tower of London is another must-see attraction. This historic castle has served as a royal palace, prison, and execution site over the centuries, and it's filled with fascinating stories and artifacts. Be sure to check out the Crown Jewels, the White Tower, and the Medieval Palace while you're there.
  3. The Shard: If you're looking for a great view of London, head to The Shard. This towering skyscraper offers panoramic views of the city from its observation deck, which is located on the 72nd floor. On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction.
  4. Night walks: The sound of the Thames River flowing gently in the background creates a peaceful atmosphere that is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The surrounding area near Tower Bridge is dotted with pubs and restaurants, offering a range of cuisines and drinks to satisfy any palate. The streets are quiet, with occasional bursts of laughter and chatter from nearby establishments.
  5. The Jack the Ripper Tour: Jack the Ripper was a serial killer who operated in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888. He is believed to have killed at least five women. The murders were characterized by their gruesome nature, with the victims being brutally mutilated. Despite a massive manhunt and widespread media attention, the killer was never caught, and his identity remains a mystery to this day.

Fortress of the Tower of London

The castle at the Tower Bridge stands tall and proud, a symbol of centuries of rich history and royal power. Its gray stone walls and turrets rise up against the blue sky, creating a striking contrast. The castle's imposing presence is enhanced by the surrounding moat, which adds to the sense of strength and security. From this vantage point, you can imagine the many events that have taken place within its walls, from royal ceremonies to dark dungeons and executions.

St. John's Chapel

St. John's Chapel is a beautiful example of medieval architecture and is one of the most striking features of the Tower of London. The chapel is located in the White Tower and was built in the early 1080s by William the Conqueror. As you enter the chapel, the first thing that catches your eye is the stunning Romanesque arch that frames the entrance. The chapel's interior is adorned with elegant details, including intricate stonework and stained glass windows that cast a colorful light on the stone walls. The high vaulted ceiling adds to the grandeur of the space, and the atmosphere is one of peaceful serenity.

The Shard

Standing at the top of The Shard at sunrise is a truly amazing experience that offers a breathtaking view of London. The sun is slowly rising over the horizon, painting the sky with a stunning array of colors. Shades of blue, orange, and gold are gradually filling the sky, bringing a sense of calm and tranquility to the city below. From this height, it's easy to see all of London's iconic landmarks, including Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and St. Paul's Cathedral, as they slowly come to life. The Thames River is glistening in the early morning light, with the occasional boat slowly making its way down the river.

Tower Bridge at night

The Tower Bridge at night is a sight to behold, with its grand silhouette standing tall against the dark sky. The bridge is illuminated with a golden light that highlights the intricate details of its design. As you approach the bridge, you can see the reflection of the lights shimmering on the Thames River below, creating a beautiful and mesmerizing display. The water is calm, and the reflections of the lights add to the peaceful atmosphere. Looking out from the bridge, you can see the city's skyline, the passing boats, and the ships adding to the charm of the scene.

The Jack the Ripper Tour

Jack the Ripper was a notorious and elusive serial killer who terrorized the Whitechapel area of London in 1888. He targeted prostitutes and is believed to have killed at least five women in a gruesome and brutal manner. His victims were left in the dark alleys and corners of the area, which were known as "rookeries" and were frequented by criminals. The poorly lit and confusing layout of these alleys made it easier for the killer to remain undetected.

Despite a massive manhunt and media attention, Jack the Ripper was never caught, and his identity remains a mystery to this day. The tour took me through alleys and streets of Whitechapel where his crimes were committed have become infamous, and the area is still associated with the Ripper's legacy. The Jack the Ripper Tour retraces the killer's steps and let's you imagine the fear and horror of those dark nights.

The legacy of Jack the Ripper has captured the imagination of people around the world and has inspired numerous books, movies, and TV shows. Some speculate that the true identity of the killer may never be discovered, but many theories have been put forth over the years. Our tour guide has landed on the theory that the Ripper was a doctor who worked for the monarchy.

This theory gained traction in the 1970s when writer Stephen Knight published his book, "Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution." Knight claimed that the Ripper was none other than Sir William Gull, a physician who had served as the physician to Queen Victoria. According to Knight's theory, Gull was part of a Masonic conspiracy to silence a group of prostitutes who were blackmailing members of the royal family over their extramarital affairs.

While Knight's theory has been widely debunked by historians, it remains a popular subject of speculation and debate among Ripperologists. Supporters of the theory point to the fact that Gull did suffer from a form of mental illness that could have led him to commit the murders, as well as his ties to the royal family. Despite the passing of more than a century, the memory of his gruesome crimes lives on, and the alleys of Whitechapel continue to be a chilling reminder of the horrors that occurred.

Melting pot of history

These are only a few of the amazing activities to engage in and sights to behold around Tower Bridge and the River Thames in the fall and winter. This area is a melting pot of rich history, captivating art, and picturesque views that will leave you in awe. No matter your interests, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

If you have a penchant for history, you'll find yourself immersed in the rich cultural heritage of the area which is perfect for leisurely strolls. The riverbank boasts picturesque views of London's skyline and is perfect for evening walks or a jog in the crisp autumn air. You can also take a stroll along the South Bank, where you'll find an array of street performers, food stalls, and pop-up shops.

Whether you're a history buff, an art lover, or simply looking to relax and enjoy the sights, the Tower Bridge and the River Thames area have something for everyone. So, put on your walking shoes, grab a map, and start exploring!