Souvenirs from London, United Kingdom
The London Red Bus is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital of United Kingdom. Its toy-like old style typical image is that of the Routemaster Bus which still operates on two of the City's historical routes. This red double-decker remains a popular icon to be found on a resin fridge magnet souvenir showing a splendid background view of the Palace of Westminster. The Palace is a vital part of United Kingdom's political life with its vivid dramatic history of destruction and reconstruction and hugely notorious landmarks such as the Big Ben Tower, one of the most photographed buildings in the city.
The Palace of Westminster, a Heritage of London's Dramatic Past
The Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) stretches silently along the river of Thames as a stunning architectural masterpiece of war times, peace and fire. The Westminster Palace has been listed as one of the Grade I buildings since 1970 and in recognition of its uniqueness and splendor, it's been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. It comprises the Old Palace, a medieval construction destroyed in the Great Fire of 1834 and the New Palace, its current reconstruction. It was the official royal medieval palace for all Kings of England from its construction in the 11th century and up until the Fire of 1512 when most of the building was destroyed. The Palace was then heavily reconstructed to house the Parliament and the Royal Court of Justice.
The Houses of Parliament through Fire and War
A second more devastating fire destroyed most of the Palace of Westminster in 1834 leaving just a few parts of the building standing (the Westminster Hall and the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft are two of them). The radical reconstruction of the Palace in splendid Perpendicular Gothic style was the responsibility of architect Charles Barry and expert Augustus W. N. Pugin who included the Old Palace remains in the new construction. The 1,100 rooms built symmetrically around two courtyards took more than 30 years to complete with the work started in 1840. The decorating of the Palace and major conservation work have been an ongoing process ever since. The Chamber of Commons needed some of the most complex repairs after its bombing in World War II during which the building has been severely hit several times.
Hop on and off London's Red Double-Decker Bus
The London bus service dates back to 1829 when the first horse drawn omnibuses could be seen in the City. It was a slow beginning leading to the 1855 London General Omnibus Company services in London only to be replaced by the modern 20th century motor bus service. This was an instant hit and until the end of the 1960s the London bus kept its own unique design regardless of its manufacturer's standard products often to compete in offering a 'London look' to their own vehicle designs. The Red Bus of London has undergone radical changes like the city landscape itself and in 1968, the last Routemaster bus was built; in 2008 a new project aimed to introduce the new Routemaster model and remove the existing bendy buses. There are only 2 heritage routes in Central London which are still operated by the Routemaster double-deckers: one route includes Kensington High Street and the other one unites Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill. Due to their age, most Routemasters are not coping with today's traffic standards still their archetypical 1960s style is popular enough to make them London's iconic trademark image.