Founded by William the Conqueror in 1066-7 and enlarged and modified by successive sovereigns, today the Tower of London is one of the world's most famous and spectacular fortresses. Discover its 900-year history as a royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, mint, arsenal, menagerie and jewel house.
The Tower of London is one of the world's major tourist attractions; today, over 2.5 million visitors a year come to discover its long and eventful history, its buildings, ceremonies and traditions, and to get a glimpse of the world famous Crown Jewels.
HRP Tower of London
London EC3N 4AB
Nearest Underground: Tower Hill (Circle & District line/DLR)
Is it any wonder that The Tower of London is the nation's leading historic visitor attraction? Standing guard over the River Thames, its 20 mighty towers and giant stone walls project an image of power that once chilled the hardest of hearts.
Only by going inside can you experience nearly a thousand years of history and hear the myths and legends that make it 'a day out to die for'. Entry includes:
Yeoman Warder Beefeater Tours
Nobody knows more about the history of The Tower than the Yeoman Warders (popularly known as 'Beefeaters') who have guarded this royal palace for centuries. They'll not only captivate you with amazing stories, passed on from generation to generation, but take you to stand on the site where famous prisoners, including two of Henry VIII's wives, were beheaded. Free tours are held throughout the day.
Once inside the Treasury, marvel at the Imperial State Crown, worn by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament. Be dazzled by the largest, top quality, cut diamond in the world, Cullinan I, set in the Sovereign's Sceptre. The Jewel House Wardens will be on hand to answer any questions about this priceless collection.
The White Tower
The first stones of this imposing structure, designed to dominate and protect the capital, were laid around 1080 by order of William the Conqueror. Its mighty walls are now home to displays from the Royal Armouries collection, telling the story of the building, as well as of arms and armour at The Tower.
Inside the galleries you can see original armours worn by Henry VIII and Charles I, plus a reconstructed display of the massive collection of arms once housed in the Grand Storehouse. You can also visit the 'Spanish Armoury' which features The Tower's historic instruments of torture, including the infamous block and axe.
The Medieval Palace
Inside the Medieval Palace, step back into the 13th century, as costumed guides re-create scenes of courtly life. Once outside, you can stroll along the Wall Walk with its fine views of Tower Bridge and the River Thames.
Photos by Amanda Johnson
Throughout the year there is a fabulous programme of special events, with costumed guides bringing to life the intriguing, daring and sometimes gruesome tales associated with The Tower.
Meet the traitor Essex, the last man beheaded here, chase Colonel Blood, the man who attempted to steal the Crown Jewels, or unveil the Gunpowder Plot that ended with the death of Guy Fawkes.
The Tower of London is on the River Thames next to Tower Bridge.
- District and Circle lines to Tower Hill station, or Jubilee and Northern lines to London Bridge station.
Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
- Tower Gateway station
- Fenchurch Street station or London Bridge station.
15, 25, 42, 78, 100, D1
- From Charing Cross, Westminster or Greenwich to Tower Pier