Westminster Abbey – The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster is one of the most important religious buildings located in London, next to the cathedral in Canterbury and the saint Paul Cathedral. This monumental Anglican church has a rich history and is a popular tourist attraction.
According to legends a temple already existed here in 616, it was called Thorney Island. The first monastery was built around the year 800, but the Westminster Abbey was built over 250 years later. Then Edward the Confessor, who could not participate for political reasons in the pilgrimage to Rome for the release of his vows had to rebuild the abbey. Construction works took place in the years 1045-1050, and the new abbey was consecrated on December 28 1065, a week before the death of the king who was buried there. The first coronation in Westminster Abbey took place in 1066 and the first crowned ruler was William the Conqueror. Since that time virtually all coronations and other important ceremonies took place in the abbey. In 1953 Elizabeth II was crowned here.
Also it is a important burial place of prominent politicians, actors, poets, writers and other personalities. Their tombstones or plaques are here: William Shakespeare, William Blake, Geoffrey Chaucer, Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Browning, George Gordon Byron, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin and many more were buried here.
In 1220 the Lady Chapel was added to the Westminster Abbey. A little later the rebuilding of the abbey took place and it gained the present shape. Subsequent important reconstruction was carried out in the sixteenth century during the reign of Henry VII. In the mid-sixteenth century Westminster Abbey was taken over by Henry VIII, who then fought with the Catholic Church.
Westminster Abbey had initially a Romanesque style, now it has an English Gothic architectural style. Two western towers of the abbey in neo-Gothic style were added in 1745. The interior and exterior impress with their monumentality and unique decorations, so you should pay attention to the inscriptions, ornaments and sculptures, who also are a part of the history of this building.
Westminster Abbey has many interesting places to see during your visit. At the abbey you can also visit a museum, where you can watch interesting exhibits. They are regarding the former rulers of England, you can see numerous sculptures, replicas of the coronation regalia, effigies, coronation chair from 1301, which was using during the coronation of all but two kings of England. Among the important places in the abbey are: Chapel of Edward the Confessor, St. George Chapel in the memory of a million British people killed in wars, Poets' Corner, the tomb of Elizabeth I, Chapter House, College Gardens, Norman Undercroft.
Westminster Abbey is an important landmark on the map of London and a must see. Both the richly decorated facades and the interior of the building impress with their uncommon appearance. More information about opening hours can be found on the website of the abbey.
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