London’s famous Clock Tower—better known as Big Ben—is the landmark structure attached to the equally famous Houses of Parliament. Nestled aside the River Thames, the towering glory is one of the best-looking buildings in the capital and a long-held favourite of amateur photographers and tourists looking to take a trendy snap as the sun sets. Opened in 1859, the tower was designed in the Gothic Revival style by Augustus Pugin, assistant to the architect who designed the rest of Westminster Palace, Sir Charles Barry. Standing at over 300 feet tall, it’s constructed of the same sandy-brown stone that characterises the rest of the Parliamentary buildings.
Although no longer the largest four-faced clock in the world—an honour that now belongs to the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower in Milwaukee—it remains an intrinsic part of the London skyline, and lends its famous chimes to nightly television news bulletins. British residents able to persuade a Member of Parliament or Lord to let them in can climb the 393 steps up the tower, but there is no access for those living outside the realm. For most of us though, Big Ben is to be admired from afar, with the chimes sounding every fifteen minutes as well as on the hour.