One of the famous icons of the city of London is the beautiful edifice of the Houses of Parliament by the River Thames. It’s hard to miss since the Big Ben is directly attached to this building. I remember seeing it for the first time, the scene of the empty Westminster Bridge as the protagonist of the film 28 Days Later crosses it came to mind. It was 6am then on a Sunday so it was only myself and a few early joggers in the area, I was able to admire the beautiful architecture of the Houses of Parliament without having to deal with a crowd of people. I was in awe and it never crossed my mind that I will one day walk through the corridors of this building.
Fast forward to 3 years later, a sponsored advertisement popped up in my Facebook feed – tickets for an audio tour of the Houses of Parliament were on sale. I immediately bought one for myself of course and geeked out completely on the day of the tour. I love exploring historical and old buildings with beautiful architecture. There’s always a gem to discover. Sadly, photos aren’t allowed for most of the tour and I’m not one to not abide by the rules of a building where laws are actually passed.
The highlight of the tour was definitely being inside the chambers of House of Commons and House of Lords. It’s quite a surreal experience to be physically inside a place where the laws of the land are created (or ended). I only see it in TV and it looks so much smaller in real life. It’s also very interesting to know the process of how a bill is passed, how they vote and all the centuries-old traditions they practice until now.
The audio tour itself was very informative, I have to admit though that some parts of it wasn’t interesting for me so I had to skip through. I do love the fact that the audio guide includes actual recordings of how the chambers are being used. It’ll make you feel like you’re in the middle of it all when in reality, the seats around you are empty.
With the help of the guide, you’ll be able to locate where Guy Fawkes planted the gun powder, a reminder of the damage caused by the World War II bombings, where William Wallace was sentenced to death, where Nelson Mandela stood to deliver his speech and so much more. The whole building is just packed with history, it’s quite an amazing thing to say that you’ve walked through the walls where all the historical figures once walked through.
While I probably wouldn’t recommend it to everyone specially if you’re not so much into history and architecture, I do believe that it’s an interesting place to visit if you’re a resident or citizen of the UK or if you’re an Anglophile and a geek like I am.
Visit Houses of Parliament
Adults: Advance: £18.50 / Same day: £20.50
Children (age 5 to 15): Free with each paying adult but will still need a ticket
Additional children: Advance: £7.50 / Same day: £8.50