Britain is full of monuments that span its 5,000-year history. They include ancient stone monuments where people worshiped pagan gods, and meeting places where tribal societies gathered. They are castles with strong defenses: curtain walls, mighty turrets, and arrow slits instead of windows, that were truly able to withstand a long siege and dominate a region. They are stately homes, constructed from the period of Queen Anne until now, where peace has generally been prevalent throughout most of the British Isles (notwithstanding some rebellions that happily didn't destroy too much of the nation's architectural heritage). They are theaters, parks, gardens, universities and memorials.
Some of these were built before the modern nation came about, and some of them gathered - sometimes through gifts or purchases, sometimes through what we might call less amenable methods - from various nations around the world. Some of these were saved from destruction or discovered by explorers and archaeologists, and some were looted. Some were commissioned by wealthy men and women who wanted to give back to the public and provide places of recreation or education, and some were built after a public consultation and funded by donations, the lottery, or grants from organizations and foundations. Some of them have become the most recognizable structures in the world. So let's see how well you know them!
The largest chiming clock on the planet, Big Ben is located in the city of London, England. Although the name Big Ben refers to the clock, it is commonly used to refer to the tower built between 1843 and 1858 as part of the Westminster Palace.
A Roman sacred site located in the city of Bath, England, this site, originally used by early Romans in the United Kingdom, comprises three segments; the temple of Aquae Sulis, the Sacred Spring and the Roman Bath House. The site was revamped during the 18th century and has been maintained since, as the city's main attraction.
This palace was built by King Henry VIII originally, for one of his favorites, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, but was inhabited by the king himself in 1529. During King William III's rebuilding of the palace, much of the original Tudor architectural structure was destroyed and replaced with styles of Baroque.
Nelson's Column is a British monument that is found in Trafalgar Square, another iconic site in the UK. It honors Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died in the battle after which the square was named; it took approximately three years to build.
The oldest, longest and highest navigable aqueduct in Great Britain, the Poncysytlle Aqueduct, was built during 1795 and 1805. Located in Wales, this structure was constructed using cast iron and stone.
First founded in Edinburgh in 1670, the Royal Botanic Garden is the second oldest in Britain. The garden was established for the growth and study of medicinal plants and now occupies four sites across Scotland; Edinburgh, Dawyk, Logan and Benmore. Despite its scientific purpose, the gardens serve as a popular tourist attraction.
Built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London, officially referred to as her Majesty's Royal Palace and the Fortress Tower of London, stood in central London as a symbol of oppression. The tower was used both as a royal residence and a prison in 1100 to 1952 and is owned by Queen Elizabeth II.
This botanical garden was founded in 1840 in southwest London and was developed from the exotic garden at Kew Park. Comprising more than seven million preserved plant specimens, Kew Gardens is one of London's most popular attraction and was declared a World Heritage site in 2003.
Located in North Yorkshire, this is one of the largest and best-preserved monasteries in England. Fountain Abbey was founded in 1132 and designated a World Heritage site in 1986. The monastery became one of the wealthiest before its termination in 1539 by King Henry VIII.
The only non-royal residence to be called a palace, Blenheim Palace was built between 1705 and 1732 in the Baroque architectural style. The palace was originally intended to be a reward to the 1st duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, for his victory during the War of the Spanish Succession. The palace which is located in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, was designated a world heritage site in 1987.
Established in 1945 by radio astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, the Jodrell Bank Observatory is a British observatory located in Lower Withington, UK. The observatory is comprised of several radio telescopes which include its largest, the Lovell Telescope. Originally referred to as the Jodrell Bank Experimental Station, it has since been used in research, namely meteors.
The Antonine Wall was the most complex fortification built by emperor Antoninus Pius. Although referred to as a wall, the barrier consists only of a turf rampart with frontal ditches. The barrier still exists today and extends across the center of Scotland.
Transformed from a townhouse to a palace by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, Buckingham Palace is the royal residence of the current reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. The enlarged palace became a monarch residence after Queen Victoria's accession in 1837. Located in Westminster, London, it is often used for state appearances by the royal family.
They are a 300-foot-high, 30-mile-wide white chalk cliff on the edge of Dover, England facing France. The cliffs, believed to have been a seafloor before, formed millions of years ago from the remains of algae. Today, the cliff stands as an iconic landmark of England.
Designed by 24-year-old Isambard Kingdom Brunel and built after his death as a memorial, the Clifton Suspension Bridge spans 214 meters above the Avon Gorge in Bristol. Originally built for pedestrians, the calculations used to construct the bridge's chains have allowed it to be used by several vehicles today.
The castle, located in Durham, was built under the request of William the Conqueror in 1073 to house and protect the bishops from local and foreign rebellions. The castle has since been used as part of the University College, Durham, from 1840 and was designated a world heritage site in in 1986.
Consisting of the Fountains Abbey's ruins, Fountains Hall Castle and Studley Royal water gardens, Studley Royal Park is an impressive landscape situated in Yorkshire, England. The park is 800 acres wide and features a marvelous water garden, grown during the 18th century by John Aislabie to impress his visitors.
Commonly known by the easier-to-pronounce name of "Neasden Temple," BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is Europe's first traditional Hindu temple. The temple was built in London in 1992 and took two and a half years to be completed. The temple was built entirely by the Hindu community.
Constructed out of recycled steel and designed by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is currently the tallest structure in the United Kingdom. The sculpture was built as part of the legacy of the London Olympics 2012. The Orbit is 114.5m tall and comprises a 176m slide, installed in 2016.
Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, the Blackpool Tower stands at 518 feet. The tower, located in Blackpool, Lancashire, England first opened to the public in 1894 and is usually painted in dark red.
A royal residence located in Windsor, Berkshire, England, Windsor Castle is best known for its architecture. Built in the 11th century by none other than William the Conqueror, the castle was first used as a royal residence by King Henry I. It is used today by the reigning monarch and is owned by Queen Elizabeth II.
Hadrian's Wall was built by Roman emperor, Hadrian, in the city of Brampton, Carlisle, England. The wall was constructed using stones to separate the Picts and Roman tribes and thus is sometimes referred to as the Roman Wall or the Picts wall.
Named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Victoria and Albert Museum is the largest museum of decorative arts in the world. This 12-acre museum was founded in 1852 in London, England and showcases collections as old as 5000 years.
Originally referred to as the Severn Gorge, Ironbridge Gorge was formed by a glacial overflow toward the end of the ice age. It is dubbed the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, which occurred during 1760 to 1840. The gorge was renamed after the famous iron bridge, built in 1779 to connect industrial towns.
Built as an entrance to Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch is located in Hyde Park, central London, England. The arch was named after Wellington and stood as a symbol of his triumph against Napoleon. The gold statue at the top depicts the Angel of Peace descending upon a chariot of war.
As part of the Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms are located in Westminster, London. It is made up of the Churchill Museum, which focuses on the life of Winston Churchill an English statesman and the Cabinet War Rooms used by the British government during World War II as a command center.
House of Parliament is used to refer to what is actually the Palace of Westminster. The palace, as suggested by its names, is located in Westminster, London and is the meeting place of the houses of Parliament. The building, along with Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church, was designated a world heritage site in 1987.
A very famous historical landmark located in Wiltshire, England, believed by some to have been built by extraterrestrial beings, Stonehenge is a ring of equally sized stones said to have been used prehistorically by pagans for worshipping. The true purpose and builders are yet to be discovered.
A magnificent station built in Victorian Gothic architecture, St.Pancras Station lies adjacent to the popular Kings Cross station. It was built in 1868 by Midland Railway Company to connect London to various other cities, and was renovated in 2001 to accommodate international trains.
Originally the Nottingham House, Kensington Palace was first purchased and expanded by King William III in 1689. The palace is said to be the favorite among successive sovereigns and was the birthplace of Queen Victoria.
Located in London, England, the Marble Arch was built during the 19th century to serve as the entrance to the cours d'honneur to Buckingham Palace. The arch was designed by John Nash in 1827 and was constructed out of Carrara marble. The structure was later moved in the year 1851.
The world's tallest isolated column, The Monument was built to commemorate the great fire of 1666. Officially named The Monument to the Great Fire of London, the column, designed by Christopher Wren, was built of stone between 1671 and 1677. It features a flight of 311 steps leading to a viewing platform.
The burial place of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, Westminster Abbey is an active church and place of worship. The Abbey, officially named Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, was built in 960 in Gothic architecture and is the traditional place of coronation for British monarchs.
Located in Ludgate Hill, London, this Anglican cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of London. The cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1669 as part of a reconstruction project after the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The world's first and longest cantilever bridge, was built in Scotland in 1890 and restored in 2012. This landmark was made a world heritage site in July, 2015- the sixth heritage site inscribed in Scotland.
Trafalgar Square is a public square located in Westminster. It was built around what was formerly Charing Cross. In the center stands a column and statue commemorating the victory of Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar against the French.
Perched on the white cliffs of Capelle-le-Ferne, the Batte of Britain Memorial was built in memory of the aircrew in the Battle of Britain. The memorial consists of a statue of a pilot seated atop a propeller.
The last standing piece of the Palace of Whitehall, the Banqueting House is the most marvelous of banqueting houses. The building, still seated in London, is believed to have kicked off the neo-classical architecture era. The palace, and in turn the Banqueting House, was designed by Inigo Jones and built in 1619.
Another monument in London, England, the Jewel Tower is no less impressive. The tower was originally built in 1395 to serve as a walk-in treasure chest for King Edward III. It was commonly called the Kings Privy Wardrobe and contained a ribbed vault.
One of the world's most famous landmarks, the London Eye refers to a humongous Ferris wheel near the Elizabeth Tower in London, England. The wheel is 443 feet tall and first opened in 2000. The London Eye is also referred to as the Millennium Wheel.
Away from the city in Somerset, England, lies Cheddar Gorge. Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge and consists of magnificent stalactite caves. The gorge is located in the Mendip Hills.
An impressive variety of plants grown inside biomes the size of football fields designed by Nicholas Grimshaw. The biomes are located in a reclaimed kaolinite pit in Cornwall, England with the two largest simulating rainforests.
A similar version of Stonehenge, the Avebury Stone Circle comprises of stones arranged circularly for reasons unknown to researchers. It is the largest stone circle in Europe.
Located within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, London, Eltham Palace is the childhood homes of kings Edward III and Henry IV. A marvelous combination of Tudor, Medieval and 20th-century architecture, Eltham Palace is currently unoccupied, despite its beauty.
St. Michael's Mount is a 58-acre island accessible from the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway. Sitting to the top of the island is a medieval church and castle.
Built atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is one of the best-known landmarks of Scotland. Although not the largest in Scotland, the Edinburgh Castle played vital roles in defending Scotland against sieges and wars. Used as a military stronghold from the 11th century, and then a British Army base, the castle is now a popular tourist attraction.
One of the largest attractions in South East England, Brighton Pier is officially known as The Brighton Palace Pier. Taking no less than eight years to construct, the pier is 1760 feet long and was designed by R. St. George Moore.