London – A Must See
How did London become one of the most famous capitols in the world? The city is on a list of must see places in a person’s lifetime. Is it for its beautiful monuments, museums, parks or maybe the multi-cultural atmosphere that makes you feel at home no matter where you are from.
Let’s go back to the very beginning. In the first century AD Romans established a settlement called Londinium complete with all the amenities a self-respecting Roman town had, such as a forum, public baths, basilica and an amphitheater. After numerous attacks by Saxons, Picts, and Scoti the Romans decided to leave and gave the green light for Saxons to settle in the area. Until the 11th century the Saxons led a reasonably peaceful existence focusing on trading and silverwork. In 1066 William the Conqueror from Normandy came and began the development of the city into a grand trade hub.
London grew because of trade but so many people, ships and goods coming from different parts of the world spelt disaster. The Black Death started in 1348 and killed at least a third of the inhabitants of London. Then,in the year 1665, there was another outbreak that wiped out at least 25% of the city’s population. If that wasn’t enough then came the Great Fire of London, which started in a bakeryand went on for days. Few people were killed but the blaze destroyed 13,500 houses. As any great city, though, London rose from its knees stronger than ever. Landed gentry commissioned the construction of many famous buildings and parks such as Buckingham Palace, Marlborough House and Hyde Park. New docks were added due to growing trade and London became the capital of the British Empire. It prospered until World War 2 during which the city was bombarded in air raids called the blitz. 20,000 people died during the raids between 1941-1944. The Underground served as a shelter for 150,000 people each night.
After the tragedy of the Second World War,came an environmental catastrophe for the city, which we can experience firsthand in our own cities today. That is the Great Smog of December 1952. A city filled with factory chimneys and smoke from coal fires became engulfed in a smog so dense that public transport was suspended and walking in the street was practically impossible due to low visibility. This environmental disaster expedited the introduction of the Clean Air Act in 1954.
In the years following, London continued to grow not only in size but also in cultural diversity. Along with foreign goods came people of different cultures, religious beliefs and ethnicities adding to the melting pot that is London. This really is a place to see, with all its history, monuments, faces, and beautiful diversity.