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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament or the Palace of Westminster is the seat of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and the centre of the government of the UK.

The present palace, which includes the clock tower of Big Ben is located on the north bank of the River Thames close to Westminster Abbey, Portcullis House and Westminster Bridge and faces the London Eye on the South Bank.

The present Gothic Palace of Westminster was built in the 19th century beginning in 1840 and was a long time in construction. The original architect was Charles Barry (1795-1860).

The first medieval palace built in Westminster was the residence of English monarchs, only Westminster Hall, dating from the reign of William II (1056-1100), survives and is incorporated into the present structure. From 1530 onwards the monarch had moved his residence to York Place and the Houses of Commons and Lords continued to sit in the original palace.

Alterations to the Old Palace were made by Sir John Soane, between 1824 and 1827 but a huge fire in 1834 destroyed much of what had been built over the ages. The Palace of Westminster sustained extensive bomb damage in World War II but was subsequently repaired and restored.

Other London attractions located near to the River Thames include the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, or the George Inn in Southwark.

House of Commons

Map of Houses of Parliament

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