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Темы на английском языке - A tour about London

 Topics in English - Geography - A tour about London  

1. London is the capital of Great Britain and one of the greatest cities in the world. A visitor going to London expects to see a giant city, but the real size of London impresses even those who have been well informed. Greater London territory covers an area of 720 square miles* and is twice as great as the territory of New York, though its population is almost twice smaller. London is a city, which was never planned, it has no city center, it is a constellation of once separate towns and villages grown together. In bird’s eye view of London you can see the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and other sights.
2. London is the oldest city of the English-speaking peoples, more than twenty centuries old. It was first mentioned by the Romans. They called it Londinium, but the word is probably of Celtic origin meaning “lake fortress”. But why a lake fortress? We know that London stands on the river not on the lake! But when there was a rising tide in the sea, the waters of the Thames covered almost the whole place where the town was standing, making a great lake. Even now the city needs huge security buildings protecting the city from the floods.
3. A high hill that was never covered with water became the place where the first fortress was built. At first it was earthen, but later it was made of stone. The line where the walls of this fortress were became the boundary of the City of London. The rich City having walls around it bought many rights from the King of England. The Londoners had a right to choose their own judge and Lord Mayor. The election and the ceremony of Lord Mayor riding through the streets of London is one of the most beautiful processions. The City of London has every right of a city, and the Lord Mayor is responsible for the City government. To these days on ceremonial visits to the City, the Queen halts at Temple Bar to receive the right of entry from the Lord Mayor. The boundaries of the City are guarded by the Griffins, the symbols of the City of London.
4. There were many beautiful buildings in medieval City of London, but most of them were wooden. When the Great Fire broke out in 1666, almost the whole City was scorched by the fire. Not only wooden but even stone buildings were burnt down. To commemorate this terrible catastrophe, the Londoners erected a monument, which is now called simply the Monument. Its height (61.5 metres) is equal to the distance between the Monument and the bakery at Pudding Lane where the fire began. London firemen still wear the uniform reminding of the days of great fires.
5. After the fire the City could not be reconstructed, it had to be built again. A commission of six architects was organized for this business and Sir Christopher Wren was the most talented of them. This architect drew a plan, which to a great extent determined the look of today’s London, although it was not realized in every detail. It was forbidden to build wooden houses in the City of London. The houses in the main streets of London had to be four-storied, in smaller streets – three-storied, and in lanes and alleys – two-storied. Fleet Street, famous throughout the world as the center of British news services, was one of the major streets of the city in the 17th century.
6. St. Paul’s Cathedral was the greatest work of Sir Christopher Wren. It’s the most striking building in the City today and the third largest church in the whole world. Wren was building this Cathedral for 35 years; he wanted to build a church that could rival the great St. Peter in Rome. One can’t imagine London without St. Paul. It stands on a hill and the gold ball and cross at the top can be seen on a fine day from almost any spot of London. St. Paul was built of white stone as well as many other buildings in the City of London, but smoke and soot made the stones black, only the columns and edges washed by the rain remained white. That is how the building got its peculiar white-and-black graphic look.
7. Today the City is only the central part of London, its business and financial center, a collection of offices, banks, warehouses, the heart of commerce. The Bank of England is not only the center of British trade, but of the world trade as well. In front of the buildings of the Bank there is a monument to the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo and brought fame and glory to England. Only some five thousand live permanently in the City today but nearly a million works there. In the daytime the streets of the City are crowded but late at night they are deserted.
8. But life never stops in the streets and squares of the West End, not far from the City. This area is famous for splendid shops, concert-halls and theatres. You can see elegant people, wealth and luxury, beautifully illuminated shop-windows in Piccadilly or Regent Street. Life doesn’t stop here until late at night or even early in the morning.
9. But let us not go to the fashionable quarters of the West End for a while. Let us first see the Tower of London, one of the most famous buildings in England. The Tower was a fortress, a castle, a palace, a safe for Crown Jewels and a prison, now converted into a museum. The Tower does not belong to the City historically. The fortress was built by William the Conqueror at the end of the 11th century. He built it right at the gates of the City to keep the unruly Londoners in fear. Later the kings began to use it as a royal residence. They used to spend a night before coronation there.
10. The White Tower is the most ancient part of the Tower and the oldest building of London. But if you try to find a tower in the Tower and moreover, a white one, you will certainly fail to do it. A dark with age building with four small towers in the corners is the White Tower. Its walls, once whitewashed, are almost 4 metres thick. Now the White Tower is a museum.
11. The Tower never had to face an assault. Its fortresses became a state prison for the greatest political leaders of the country. Most prisoners were criminals only in the eyes of the government. Sir Tomas More, one of the greatest scientists of the Renaissance, lost his head there. Sir Walter Raleigh, the famous sea captain who brought fame to England, spent more than twelve years in these walls. Lady Jane Grey who was the Queen of England for several days was also kept here. Only the ravens of the Tower remind of those dark years. The ravens are taken particular care of. The state donates several shillings to the museum to feed the birds. The legend says that Great Britain will keep its might and glory until the ravens leave in Tower. The Yeomen Warders of the Tower will gladly tell you about it. Their state uniform is traditional, and now they work as guides.
12. The Tower Bridge was built at the end of the 19th century to match the medieval style of the fortress. The Bridge is functioning perfectly well for such a great city as modern London. It can be quickly swung open to let in big ocean ships that can move up the Tames from the ocean. The territory between the Tower and London bridges is called the Pool for this reason so that pedestrians could walk along the bridge at the time its lower part is open; a pass is made in its upper part. Almost nobody uses this part of the bridge nowadays though.
13. Westminster Abbey is regarded as the center of the Westminster area, which is sometimes called the City of Westminster. This is the ancient church of St. Peter, which has been built and rebuilt many times. When in the 13th century the first English Parliament was called here the Westminster area was a separate City of Westminster. They say the city was founded near the monastery, being built here as far back as the 7th century.
14. Westminster Abbey is the most beautiful and one of the oldest parts of Westminster. Most of the queens and kings of England have been crowned here and you may see the ancient Coronation Chair beneath which is the Stone of Scone. King Edward the First had brought it from Scone Abbey in Scotland when the Scots were defeated. When Scotland had a separate ruler, on this stone many Scottish kings were crowned.
15. Many English kings and queens are buried in Westminster Abbey. You can see the tombs of two great queen-rivalries – Elizabeth the First Tudor and Mary Stuart – quite close to each other. The church is full of memorials to statesmen writers, scientists and explorers, all of whom have played a part in shaping Britain’s history. Here you can see Oliver Cromwell’s grave and here are some other names: Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. After the First World War an Unknown Warrior grave lies near the graves of the famous people.
16. A visitor to Westminster Abbey is always fascinated with beautiful sculptures and magnificent architecture. The interior part of the Abbey is the most spectacular. The Abbey looks higher and bigger inside than one can imagine looking at it from outside. The beautiful arches, the light from stained glass windows contribute to the unique image of the church. And the stone-lace of the ceiling is unsurpassed in Europe.
17. If you cross a wide but always full of traffic street, you will get to the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the most beautiful and famous buildings in modern London. There was a royal dwelling on the site as early as the 11th century, which later became the meeting –place of Parliament, but many times it was destroyed by fire. The foundation stone of the new Houses of Parliament was laid in 1840, the building being over nine years after. In the south part of the building you can see its clock tower, Big Ben. Big Ben is the name given also to the clock and bell of the clock tower. It strikes the hours; maybe you have heard its sound over the radio. The faces of Big Ben are well seen from the Abbey and from Westminster Bridge.
18. Victoria Tower, which is 104 metres high, is in the north corner of the Houses. Below the tower the royal gate to the Parliament is situated. A flag is hoisted on Victoria Tower when the Parliament is sitting.
19. The greatness of the Houses of Parliament was meant to symbolize the might of the British Empire. The size of the building is impressing even if we take into account the tastes of the last century: the corridors are 3 kilometers long, there are 1100 rooms, 100 staircases and so on. The lion facing the Thames embankment also symbolizes the might of the British Empire. It is a popular English symbol found on the British coat of arms.
20. Parliament Square in front of the Palace of Westminster is famous for the monuments to great British statesmen. You can see a monument to Cromwell and a monument to Churchill. A monument to Richard Coeur de Lion (Richard the Lion-Hearted) is close to the walls of the Palace of Westminster. The horse-statue was made by an Italian sculptor who managed to show the glory and noble character of the knight-king.
21. Whitehall, one of the most famous streets of London, begins from Parliament Square. It connects the Westminster area with Trafalgar Square the second central square of London. There are many monuments right in the center of this street. The most modest of them is the most famous as well; the Cenotaph is built to commemorate those who fell in the two World Wars. Every year at the beginning of November a ceremony of wreath-laying takes place here. The day is called Remembrance Sunday.
22. Whitehall is the governmental street. Most British ministries and official residences are situated here. The Admiralty is probably the most famous building here. The Royal Navy flag is hoisted on its top.
23. Downing Street is very small and is usually associated with Whitehall. Downing Street 10 is the official residence of British Prime Minister, and a policeman is always on guard at the doors of this house.
24. If you walk down Whitehall in the direction of Trafalgar Square and then turn to the left, passing through Admiralty Arch, you will see a beautiful tree-lined street. This is the Mall, the straightest and the broadest street in the central part of London. Once it has been an alley and the king played ball on it. The French name of this ball game – “pall-mall” – gave names to two neighbouring streets: Pall Mall and the Mall. The Mall is now the front entrance to Buckingham Palace, the official royal residence in London.
25. Buckingham Palace has been a country residence of the Duke of Buckingham some time ago. But in the 19th century it was rebuilt for King George. A spacious oval square was made in front of the palace. Later the square was decorated with the monument to Queen Victoria built in 1941.
26. A favoured time to see Buckingham Palace is 10.30 a.m. when you can see Changing of the Royal Guard. The ceremony takes place every morning and is a real theatrical performance. To the sound of a brass band and words of command, guardsmen form and reform as they change position. At the conclusion of this ceremony each stands still in the pose of a sentry and everything becomes quiet. Londoners love traditions and it is considered that London has preserved them to a greater extent than any other city in England.
27. Trafalgar Square is one of the most beautiful places in London. It is terraced down to Whitehall. The greatest picture museum is situated here. The National Gallery is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in London. The square is always full of doves, people come to feed them in the square and nobody is allowed to offend the birds.
28. Trafalgar Square is also famous for its fountains, but its main feature, of course, is the monument known as Nelson’s Column.
The Square was so named to commemorate Nelson’s victory over Napoleon at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Napoleon had threatened to invade Britain. Admiral Nelson swept the seas searching for the French navy and at last met it in Trafalgar Bay. Nelson was killed in the battle but the victory was won.
Round the base of the monument there are four bronze bas-reliefs, representing scenes of Nelson’s life and death. The metal for these bas-reliefs was cast from cannon captures from the French. The column is 185 feet high and a statue of Admiral Nelson on top is almost 16 feet high. It is guarded at the base by four bronze lions.
29. The parks are probably the main attraction of the West End. They occupy the most part of its territory. There are many lawns in London parks where people lie or sit about. The grass remains undamaged – they cut it close to the ground so that it is not easily trampled down. They say it is not difficult to make a real English lawn: one should crop it every day in the course of one hundred years – and the lawn is ready.
30. Hyde Park is the largest and the most popular of the London Parks. There is Speaker’s Corner in it where orators of all types and persuasions declare their various opinions for those who wish to hear. Here you can take a ride on horseback and for this purpose you can hire a horse. The horse-rides usually end in Hyde Park Corner near Marble Arch. Marble Arch was built to commemorate Lord Wellington’s victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.
31. The West End is the constellation of museums. The British Museum is the best-known national museum of antiquities and ethnography. The collections of the British Museum contain the antiquities of Egypt and Greece. And the Library has more than six million books that occupy more than 80 miles of shelves. Lenin and Marx spent much of their time in the famous Reading Room of the Museum.
32. The Tate Picture Gallery is another famous museum. It contains pictures by English masters of the 19th century, a fine collection of Turner and Constable paintings. But unlike the National Gallery, the pictures of English masters are matched here by he works of West European classics and modern artists.
33. This building is a museum and still not quite a museum. The Old Curiosity Shop was described in the novel by Charles Dickens and many tourists come to see it as part of Dickens’s London. But it is still a shop selling antiquities.
34. The old district of Covent Garden is also a museum and a great fair at the same time. A long time ago this was only a place of a big vegetable and fruit market. Now it is only a market in the sense that it has its own cluster of small shops selling all kinds of things like antique clothes and other useful and useless commodities. Covent Garden is also a theatre district. Besides visiting the famous Covent Garden Opera House, you can see all kinds of theatrical performances right in the squares of the district.
35. The West End houses many hotels and inns. Almost every house of this small street is turned into a hotel. One of the names of these streets is Moscow Road. People of different nationalities live here. Here you can see signs in English, Greek and Russian.
36. The streets of the West End are full of vagabond artists and musicians. Pictures are sold right in the streets; some of them are even painted right on the pavement of the streets. You will hardly meet any well-known artists here, but who knows, these artists may become popular in due course.
37. Such a musical band is not an uncommon sight in the streets of London: an electric guitar here is accompanied by traditional bagpipes, and modern jeans look strange next to a kilt, national Scottish dress.
38. The Thames is a natural boundary between the West End and the East End of London, the latter being a great area populated by workers, dockers and small craftsmen.
The Thames itself has a holiday look. It is always full of small boats, steamers and barges popular with tourists.
39. Down the River Thames you can see one of the most original architectural ensembles of London – Hampton Court Palace. This unusual building has no analogues in the European architecture. One of the authors is said to have been Sir Christopher Wren. The Palace was built for Cardinal Wolsey but later it became a royal residence.
40. Not far from Hampton Court Palace there is a place where the famous Royal Greenwich Observatory was situated not long ago. This is where Greenwich Meridian lies – the zero meridian giving the name to Greenwich Mean Time, the Standard Time of the World. Many great physicists and astronomers are honoured to work here; tourists like to visit this place very much.
41. Although the East End is a vast area, it has not many places of interest. The Londoners who live here are not very rich and their houses are seldom built by great architects. But still there is a family considered one of the main attractions of the East End. Sue Coleman gave birth to six children at a time, two girls and four boys. She certainly needs many assistants even to take the children for a walk.
42. Karl Marx spent his last days in the East End of London. And he had spent more than thirty years in London all in all. The house where Marx lived and died does not exist now; it was ruined by a fascist bomb.
43. Our trip will be over on the Thames embankment near the monument to Boadicea. This legendary Queen of Celts, they say, headed the uprisal against the Romans (who ruled London) and captured the city. The horses of Boadicea have come from ancient history, and every stone in London pavement is full of the air of history.
44. The end.

Машинный перевод от Yandex:
1. Лондон-столица Великобритании и один из величайших городов мира. Приезжий едет в Лондон ожидает увидеть гигантский город, но реальный Размер Лондона впечатляет даже тех, кто был хорошо информирован. Большой Лондон занимает территорию площадью 720 квадратных миль* и является дважды столь же большой, как на территории Нью-Йорка, хотя его население почти в два раза меньше. Лондон-город, который никогда не планировался, он не имеет центра, это Созвездие однажды отдельные города и деревни срослось. В высоты птичьего полета из Лондона вы можете увидеть тауэрский мост, Лондонский Тауэр и другие достопримечательности..

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