Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Big Ben - London
Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and is often extended to refer to the clock or the clock tower as well. Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 2009 (the clock itself first ticking on 31 May 1859), during which celebratory events took place.
The nearest London Underground station is Westminster on the Circle, District and Jubilee lines.
A clock tower was built at Westminster in 1288, with the fine-money of Ralph Hengham, Chief Justice of the King's Bench.
The present tower was raised as a part of Charles Barry's design for a new palace, after the old Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire on the night of 16 October 1834.
The tower is designed in Pugin's celebrated Gothic Revival style, and is 96.3 metres (315.9 ft) high (roughly 16 stories).
Monochrome image of Westminister clock tower
The bottom 61 metres (200 ft) of the Clock Tower's structure consists of brickwork with sand coloured Anston limestone cladding. The remainder of the tower's height is a framed spire of cast iron. The tower is founded on a 15-metre (49 ft) square raft, made of 3-metre (9.8 ft) thick concrete, at a depth of 4 metres (13 ft) below ground level. The four clock faces are 55 metres (180 ft) above ground. The interior volume of the tower is 4,650 cubic metres (164,200 cubic feet).
Despite being one of the world's most famous tourist attractions, the interior of the tower is not open to the general public due to security concerns, although from time to time press and other VIPs are granted access. However, the tower has no elevator, so those escorted must climb the 334 limestone stairs to the top.