London, however prim and proper in perception, is far from doddering, since a huge 47.3 percent of its 7.5 million population is aged between 16 and 44, with one in five residents from an ethnic minority. Little wonder that more than 200 languages are spoken here, with the café culture encompassing cuisines from more than 70 countries in some 6,000 restaurants and 5,000 pubs and bars. With 30-plus historic gardens and 123 historic buildings, London also has more than 200 museums, 600 cinema screens, and 108 music halls. Within an hour of London are 95 golf courses, 2,000 tennis courts, seven ice rinks, and six race courses. London has no known founder, although historic record points to King Lud of Ludgate Hill fame. Shortly after the Roman conquest of 43 AD, invaders realized the strategic significance of the river Thames running through the flat, fertile mainland. The Norman invasion of 1066 was marked by construction of the mighty Tower of London, located to protect London Bridge from raiders coming upstream. As throughout Europe, London was hard hit by the Bubonic Plague known as the Black Death, which wiped out a third of its population in 1348-49. Yet the population tripled under the Tudors, and by 1700, it had passed a half million, ranking with Paris and Naples as one of Europe’s three largest cities. When Edward VII ascended the throne in 1901, London was the largest city in the world, and it remains Europe’s largest.
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the London Metropolitan Area, with links to more details when available.
Bank of England MuseumAlso known as the “Old Lady of Threadneedle Street Museum,” the Bank of England Museum tracks the bank’s history from 1694 to its current role as the nation’s central bank. Gold bars date from ancient times, and pikes and muskets used to defend the bank are also on display. History includes a mob attack on the Bank during the Gordon riots in 1780, and the introduction of paper money in 1797. Some documents relate to well-known customers including George Washington and the Duchess of Marlborough. In March, 2003, the museum welcomed its one-millionth visitor.Threadneedle Street. (020) 7601-5545
Banqueting HouseFamed for its Rubens ceiling paintings, the Banqueting House (the only remaining part of the Palace of Whitehall) was designed by Inigo Jones and commissioned by James I in 1619.Whitehall, SW1. (020) 7930-4179
British Airways London EyeThe London Eye is a Ferris-wheel of sorts with 32 high-tech, glassed-in carriages, each accommodating up to 25 passengers, rotating upward and around with continuous piped-in commentary. Each air-conditioned carriage rotates on a device designed to keep everyone upright as the wheel slowly revolves. On a clear day, the panorama can stretch as far as Heathrow Airport and Windsor Castle. By night, London’s landmarks are floodlit against the darkness, showcasing the Gothic houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tate Museum, and Tower Bridge along with stretches of the Thames.On the south side of the River Thames, opposite Big Ben. German lessons