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Westminster Abbey - Burial Place of Legends

One cannot go to London and NOT SEE Westminster Abbey! To do so would be a grand disservice to your trip. I mean how can you not experience the most important (and heck, oldest) church in London: site of coronations, burials, memorials, and lookalike to every Citadel in our dreams?! Yeah, I'm a big fan of this place. So big that I purposely and happily went here thrice in the two times that I've visited London!

Westminster Station

Taking the tube to Westminster and getting off Westminster Station, short and sweet!! While I greatly appreciated the presence of English all around (compared to everywhere else in Europe), I must say that I found the Paris Metro to be more navigable compared to the London Tube. Must be because the Metro uses a numbering system (Get off the 6, Hop on the 9) compared to the system of the Tube which uses named lines (Jubilee Line... Jubilee Line.. Wait, what I am doing on the Metropolitan Line?!)


Westminster Abbey

* Built in the 10th Century by King Edward the Confessor to originally serve as his personal royal burial church, the Abbey instead became the burial place of dozens of other royals and multitudes of lords, dukes, persons of interest, heroes and English personalities throughout the centuries.

Westminster Abbey

* Though we are not allowed to take photos inside the Abbey (to preserve the sanctity of this place and to keep the long line moving), I was able to take a few shots right up until the official start of the audio tour. These few photos do not do justice at all to how impressive this place looks what with all the memorials and monuments stacked on top of each other!

Westminster Abbey

* It was incredible to just walk around and see Charles Darwin's burial stone calmly on the floor along the hallway; then to spot Isaac Newton's memorial a few feet away. The wave of historical appreciation hit me that day as I realized that I was in the presence of some of history's most important men and women.

Westminster Abbey

* Officially, there are around 22 English, Scottish and British monarchs buried in the Abbey including that of the sisters Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Other famous individuals who I spotted here were Neville Chamberlain (the so-called appeaser of Hitler), David Livingstone (of the famous "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?), Charles Dickens (famous writer of A Christmas Carol), Geoffrey Chaucer (known for the Canterbury Tales), Rudyard Kipling (of Jungle Book fame) and the famous actor, Laurence Olivier, among other scientists, poets, politicians, explorers and musicians.

Westminster Abbey

* Aside from being a burial place, the Abbey has also been the Coronation site for all English and later British monarchs since Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror were both crowned here in 1066. A highlight of every visit here is seeing King Edward's Chair, more commonly known as the Coronation Chair, where all Kings/Queens sit when they are crowned. Interestingly, there is a slot underneath the chair which is used to contain Scotland's legendary Stone of Destiny.

Westminster Abbey

* The Abbey has also been a venue to a host of Royal Weddings including that recently of Prince William to Kate Middleton. While the original Abbey built in the 10th Century remains, the structure has expanded at least three times to get its present shape. It also used to be run by the Benedictine Order until Henry VIII broke away from Papal influence and founded the Church of England.

Westminster Abbey

* Notwithstanding the actual church, the Abbey also contains Cloisters, a Museum housing a lot of the Abbey's treasures including items owned and used by the monarchs buried within, as well as their actual effigies (creepy, lifelike, death masks), and the Henry VII Chapel which, though connected to the Abbey structurally, is separated from the main church by brass gates and a flight of stairs and contains unique architectural features different from the main Abbey. The Chapel also has the distinction of being the mother church of the renowned, Order of the Bath, the knights of the British Empire!

Britain's Oldest Door

* Simply, Britain's oldest door. You gotta love them Brits! Concise and straight to the point with their items of interest.

Chapter House

* Another impressive portion of the Abbey is the octagonal-shaped room known as the Chapter House. Surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows on all sides showing various scenes from the Abbey's (and thus London's) history, the room is also famous for its 13th Century tiled floor.

Chapter House

* Several wall paintings can be found around Chapter House, lovingly preserved for Centuries, and each telling its own story; from the tales of St Thomas and St. Christopher to the Apocalypse and Last Judgement.

Westminster Abbey

* One exits the Abbey via the West Door, which weirdly enough looks more like the actual entrance to the place than the exit. A somewhat recent addition to the edifice is the presence of the 10 martyrs of the 20th Century (see middle of photo) which include such luminaries as Martin Luther King Jr. ("I have a dream..") and Oscar Romero (NOT to be mistaken with George Romero, the creator of the Living Dead zombie series).

Westminster Abbey

* The Scene right outside the West Door. While one has to pay admission to enter the Church (open Monday - Saturday), admission to the Abbey is free on Sunday provided you come in to participate in the Anglican mass. Supported by the reverberating abbey organ, the singing of the Westminster choir during mass is an experience to behold!

Methodist Central Hall

* This Greek Orthodox Cathedral looking building is actually the Methodist Central Hall. Apart from being a really cool building to take a picture of, the Hall actually has great historical significance as it was here where the very first general assembly of the United Nations took place in 1946.

Dean's Yard

* One of the many picturesque buildings surrounding the Abbey. This is actually the entrance to the Dean's Yard, a large green quadrangle famous for being a hang-out of kids who go to the Westminster School

Supreme Court of the UK

* Finally I cannot close this entry on Westminster without talking about the coolest looking building in the area (apart from the Abbey, of course!). At first glance, this building looks like the headquarters of some secret society, probably one with goals of world domination, strange occult rituals and dreams of new world orders. However upon further inspection, one realizes that this is actually the Supreme Court of the UK!

Supreme Court of the UK

* Check-out the stone carvings found at the entrance! This is some Crusader / Knights Templar / Illuminati - stuff, people!!

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