Square Mile marvels: where to visit in the City of London

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It may be known the world over as one of the most important financial hubs on the planet, but the City of London (yes, it actually is a city inside London itself; weird but true), is also worth discovering for its many marvellous attractions for visitors to the city – both of them…!

The Tower of London

(EC3N 4AB)

Surrounded it may be nowadays by all the Square Mile’s – admittedly impressive – 20th and 21st Century skyscrapers, the Tower remains perhaps the definitive London building, being that it’s stood on the same spot (and been added to) for more than a full millennium now. Yes, really. In its time then it’s served the place (and wider nation) as a fortress, a palace, a prison, an armoury, an army barracks, an exotic animal menagerie and now a world-class all-round tourist venue. All of which makes it not just one of the essential City of London attractions, but one of the essential attractions to be found anywhere in the capital – and so, simply a venue you must visit wherever you’re based; not least if it’s nearby at, say, The Barbican Rooms Hotel.

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St Paul’s Cathedral

(St Paul’s Churchyard EC4M 8AD)

Featuring a stunningly beautiful knave and crypt, magnificent mosaics and, of course, *that* awesome dome, Sir Christopher Wren’s 350-year-old cathedral is an extraordinary tourist trap – and a living, breathing place of Christian worship, to boot. Don’t forget to visit its ‘Golden Gallery’; albeit you’ll have to ascend the 528 steps to reach it (not too high a price to pay, though!).

The Museum of London

(150 London Wall EC2Y 5HN)

The official museum of old London Town (located slap-bang in the centre of ‘The City’) is one of its finest; don’t doubt it. It offers up a cornucopia of historical treasures from down through the ages, including the original key to the notorious Newgate Prison, essential Swinging Sixties fashions from both Carnaby Street and the King’s Road and – its piece de resistance – the Lord Mayor of London’s ludicrously ostentatious, gilded coach. A blinding sight if ever there was one! The attraction’s absolutely ideal, naturally, for those who choose to stay for their London trip at one of the many excellent hotels near Museum of London.

The Bank of England

(Threadneedle Street EC2R 8AH)

Those who are aware of the Bank of England’s important role in (independently) keeping the British economy on the straight-and-narrow, may not be aware though that this grand old building does far more than merely set interest rates and provide economic stimuluses. Specific to this article, it’s also a fascinating visitors’ venue, thanks to its little museum that focuses on Britain’s monetary, banknote and, yes, debt history. Entry’s free and you get to hold a real gold bar – who could say no to that deal, honestly!

Dr Johnson’s House

(17 Gough Square EC4A 3DE)

Finally, this one-time residence of Dr Samuel Johnson is surely a site of pilgrimage for every enthusiast of the English language. Why? Because it was here that the 18th Century literary titan not just lived for many years but also compiled the original English dictionary, over a period of nine years. Prodigiously gifted and hugely active throughout his highly impressive London-based career, Johnson was also one to enjoy a drink in the Cheshire Cheese pub, which still stands practically opposite his abode – so why step inside and raise a toast to the big (in every sense of the word) man himself?

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