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Big Ben

One of London’s most resounding landmarks is a treasured emblem of England.

Catch a glimpse of Big Ben across the River Thames and you’ll know you have truly arrived in London. Featured in British films, such as “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually,” Big Ben is best viewed from the Thames’ east bank or while strolling along Westminster Bridge, on route to see the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben was the name originally given to the largest of the clock tower’s bells. The Great Bell, as it is otherwise known, weighs 13 tons (13,760 kilograms). Listen for its deep knell as it strikes on the hour, peeling high across the rooftops and rush of London’s traffic. Nowadays, the name Big Ben is synonymous with the bells, the clock and the tower.

Since first sounding in July 1859, the clock’s reliability and reassuring chime have become a national symbol of British resilience. When the sun sets, its four ivory-tinted faces are illuminated so the clock can still be seen from miles away. The faces have only ever been dimmed in times of national crisis: for two years during World War I, to avoid German zeppelin attacks, and at night during World War II to disorient German Blitz pilots. 

Completed in 1858, the clock tower was supposedly named after London’s Commissioner of Works, a large man called Benjamin Hall. Designed by architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin in classic Gothic Revivalist style, the brick and limestone tower rests atop Britain’s Houses of Parliament. The clock is the largest four-faced chiming clock in Great Britain. Each face is 23 feet (seven meters) in diameter and contains 312 pieces of opal glass. 

Despite its status as a popular landmark, Big Ben only opens its doors to British citizens who can schedule a tour through their parliamentary representatives. Still, this exclusivity won’t stop it from giving you a little rush of excitement the first time you see and hear it.

In June 2012, Big Ben was officially renamed Elizabeth Tower, in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, but it is still known colloquially as Big Ben. 

Big Ben is located in central London. The nearest Underground station is Waterloo. 

Popular Activities at Big Ben

Like to make your time spent at Big Ben even more memorable? Remember to try out some of these activities:

Want to experience this famous attraction is an unique and memorable way? Then you can't miss a The Great Game Treasure Hunt Westminster with real treasure!.

For more things to do, take a look at our London things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Big Ben


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Lodging Near Big Ben

See all 11,302 Properties near Big Ben
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London $151
Reviewed on May 20, 2019
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Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

200 Westminster Bridge Road, London, England
     
    4.4 of 5
    4.0 out of 5.0

    The location was magnificent but initially they put me in a handicap room on the 5th floor which I didn’t initial book. Then they put me in a “upgraded” room which was on the 3rd floor it was placed directly in front of the restaurant to where I had to keep the blinds close. Remodeling was taking ...

    The Strand Palace Hotel $144
    Reviewed on May 23, 2019
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    The Strand Palace Hotel

    The Strand Palace Hotel

    372 The Strand, London, England
       
      4.0 of 5
      4.0 out of 5.0

      The Hotel is bang center of it all! I was able to just walk to all the sites I wanted to see.

      Park Plaza London Waterloo $126
      Reviewed on May 22, 2019
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      Park Plaza London Waterloo

      Park Plaza London Waterloo

      6 Hercules Road, London, England
         
        4.4 of 5
        4.0 out of 5.0

        This hotel is a very nice , modern, clean and quite hotel with a great location. A walking distance to the Big Ben, London Eye,The Abbey, Trafalgar Square. Across from the hotel you have the metro. Coffee, pubs, restaurants and markets around the corner and at the same time is pretty quite.

        St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London $189
        Reviewed on May 23, 2019
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        St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

        St. James' Court, A Taj Hotel, London

        54 Buckingham Gate, London, England
           
          4.4 of 5
          4.0 out of 5.0

          The inclusion of the spa facilities was a nice treat.

          Park Plaza County Hall London $151
          Reviewed on May 17, 2019
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          Park Plaza County Hall London

          Park Plaza County Hall London

          1 Addington Street, London, England
             
            4.3 of 5
            4.0 out of 5.0

            Overall our experience at the Park Plaza County Hall was great. The staff was friendly and very helpful. The gym was better than we expected, and the restaurant had a nice selection of food for breakfast. It was also located within walking distance of quite a few major attractions, and was reasonably-priced. ...

            Sea Containers London $194
            Reviewed on May 21, 2019
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            Sea Containers London

            Sea Containers London

            20 Upper Ground, London, England
               
              4.6 of 5
              5.0 out of 5.0

              Friendly staff and clean and modern hotel. Excellent situation right by the river however not all rooms are river view

              Marlin Waterloo $120
              Reviewed on May 22, 2019
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              Marlin Waterloo

              Marlin Waterloo

              111 Westminster Bridge Road, London, England
                 
                4.4 of 5
                4.0 out of 5.0

                Good location, clean room with space to move ie had a couch.

                Park Plaza London Riverbank $117
                Reviewed on May 23, 2019
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                Park Plaza London Riverbank

                Park Plaza London Riverbank

                18 Albert Embankment, London, England
                   
                  4.2 of 5
                  4.0 out of 5.0

                  Fantastic location. Friendly & courteous staff. Good food at the buffet for breakfast with lovely views of the river Thames & Parliament buildings.