Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic attractions: what is its history and how can it be accessed?
Buy Tower Bridge tickets online
Tickets for Tower Bridge in London give access not only to the coveted footbridge, from which you can see the Thames suspended 42 metres above the ground, but also allow you to learn about the history and workings of this construction.
The bridge, not to be confused with the nearby London Bridge, can be visited every day from 9.30 am to 6 pm, except Mondays. Last admission is one hour before closing time, but you have to take into account the waiting time for ticket validation and security checks at the entrance. There are several options for rescheduling tickets for Tower Bridge and these must be selected when checking out.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE TOWER BRIDGE GLASS WALKWAY
The Tower Bridge glass walkway (there is actually more than one) was built in 2014 and walking along it you can learn about the history of the bridge and discover some interesting facts. On either side of the glass slabs is a normal floor, so that even the most impressionable can enjoy the view. The sheets are also made of several layers, and the shallowest one is regularly replaced so that wear and tear does not spoil the experience.
To reach the famous glass walkway there are almost 300 steps, but also a lift, and this is not the only attraction that Tower Bridge offers, although perhaps the most spectacular.
TOWER BRIDGE: WHAT TO SEE?
What curiosities do you need to know to enjoy a visit to Tower Bridge in London? In the Victorian Engine Rooms, for example, you can see the steam mechanism that allowed the bridge to open before it was electrified in 1976.
But let us proceed in order: this colossal work of engineering was realised between 1886 and 1894 to the design of Horace Jones, who died in 1887 before seeing his project completed. As early as 1876, a Special Bridge or Subway Committee had been set up, which examined more than fifty proposals: the construction of a new link between the banks of the Thames had in fact proved essential to manage the growing urban and river traffic. The choice had to fall on a design that would not impede the traffic of the largest ships and therefore a bridge was chosen that could open to allow them to pass.
The bridge was also opened for special occasions and required the coordinated work of eighty people and the consumption of 20 tonnes of coal per week.
But what about today? Does the Tower Bridge still rise? Nowadays, the bridge is raised, just as it used to be, for the passage of large ships and for special occasions, but whereas in the past it was opened as many as 20-30 times a day, today it happens only two or three times. The lifting used to be so fast that people often preferred to wait for it to close again rather than climb all the steps up to the footbridge at the top, so much so that in 1910 it was closed, only to be reopened in 1982, when the whole complex became a tourist attraction.
A ticket combining Tower Bridge and Tower of London
Near Tower Bridge is the Tower of London, a fortress that houses the British Crown Jewels inside. The combined ticket for Tower Bridge and the Tower of London allows you to book both attractions at a discount.
Visits to the Tower of London can be booked Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. and on Sundays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., consulting the list of scheduled closures beforehand.
The Tower of London, from which Tower Bridge takes its name, is located close to the bridge and, if until the early 1980s a small colony of cats lived in the Engine Rooms of the latter, six ravens with a legendary role still live in the fortress: their presence, in fact, would guarantee the well-being of the monarchy itself.
A symbol of intrigue and power, the twenty-one towers that make up this fortress have had many functions over time, from state mint to royal palace. Since 1303 they have guarded the Crown Treasury, a collection of more than twenty thousand jewels and precious objects. In addition to viewing this priceless treasure, the White Tower also houses the Royal Armouries Museum, a collection of arms and armour.
What else to see in London?
London is a metropolis rich in history, culture and monuments and attractions for all tastes. While it would take more than a holiday to visit it all, you can make the most of it even in a short time: there are many things you can see in London in one day, especially if you love art and museums.
If you love walking, you could choose guided walking tours to explore the city or, if you prefer a more relaxing visit, a boat tour. Don’t miss Kensington Palace, the royal residence where the Dukes of Cambridge William and Kate lived during their early years of marriage.
For nature lovers, there are some parks in London that you absolutely must visit. These are the ones I recommend:
- Hyde Park: perhaps one of the most famous in the city, inside you can hear people giving speeches in Speakers’ Corner and visit the fountain in memory of Princess Diana. Here you are sure to meet Londoners playing tennis, rowing, horse riding;
- Regent’s Park: is located in Westminster and, apart from being a park, is a zoo;
- Greenwich Park: is the oldest in London and is best known for the zero meridian line (which is actually called the Greenwich meridian).
All of London’s parks are owned by the Crown, which grants them public use, and during fine weather they are popular places for both locals and tourists, who can get a taste of ‘British’ life here, as in the city’s neighbourhoods.