The iconic tower, officially known as Elizabeth Tower, is such an integral part of the Palace of Westminster, it sometimes outshines the neo-Gothic building at its base.
It’s nickname, Big Ben, interestingly enough, refers not to the tower itself, but its largest bell, Ben, which is rumored to have been named after Sir Benjamin Hall.
No sojourn to London would be complete without a trip to the Palace and Tower, an architectural gem which can best be described as magisterial. A word of caution, however. The surrounding areas are packed daily with visitors and can easily resemble Times Square. If your schedule allows, try to arrive early morning when the rising sun illuminates the Tower in golden light and the crowds are sparse. Don’t get your hopes up to visit its top either to see the famous bells. Only UK residents are allowed to and even then such a trip must be made via their government representatives.
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