London espresso: The capital-C City

Part of a series highlighting one area of London.

The City of London is a city within London which constituted most of Roman London. The City of London is widely referred to simply as the City (differentiated from the phrase “the city of London” by capitalising City) and is also colloquially known as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 sq mi in area. Both of these terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom’s trading and financial services industries, which continue a notable history of being largely based in the City.

Day Planner
Distance: allow 35 minutes for the walk of 1.7mi (2.7km)
Stops: the Tower of London, London Bridge, The Monument, the Museum of London, and Saint Pauls’ Cathedral.

  • Start your day first at the Tower of London to soak up some gorgeous views along the Thames. While the adult entrance fee of £25 (as of 2016) is a bit steep, first-timers to London will likely want (and appreciate) a tour of the grounds, and a viewing of the Crown Jewels. Don’t leave the area without first walking at least halfway across Tower Bridge (often incorrectly called “London Bridge”) for a selfie or two!

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  • After the Tower, head due west along Great Tower Street for 10 minutes. This route turns into Eastcheap and leads to the Monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666. Despite the loss of 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities, only six verified deaths were recorded. If time and weather allows, scale the steps of the monument for outstanding views.
  • Walk North West along King William Street to the Royal Exchange at Bank Station, making sure to avoid bumping into a busy banker or corporate lawyer with their faces in their phones! While there isn’t much to do here per se, the pulse and vibe of the financial centre can be great for people watching. Plus, the architecture alone is worth a few posts on instagram. If you happen to notice Tower 42 (pictured here) wave to my office!
  • Continue walking North West along Princes Street before turning left on Gresham / Lothbury. Walk West along Gresham, swinging by the Guildhall, which to me looks like a genuine castle in the middle of a modern city! The current building was completed in 1440, and it is the only non-ecclesiastical stone building in London to have survived through to the present day.
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photo via flickr
  • Once you reach Saint Martin’s Le Grand, turn right to walk north to the Museum of London. The entrance cost is… FREE (!) and as such, there really is no excuse to miss this out. The exhibits follow the social history of London and its inhabitants from approx. 450,000BCE, through Roman, Medieval, and (English) Civil War times, up to today.
  • Following a trip to the Museum, head back along Gresham south until you reach Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Following the destruction of the original church in the Great Fire (see Monument, above) the current construction was completed in 1710: it remains a working church with hourly prayer and daily services. With an entry fee of £18 (as of 2016) I have never felt the need to tour the inside. Once you’re done exploring the grounds, simply jump back on the tube at St Pauls’ Station.
  • Caveat: both St Pauls’ Station and neighbouring Bank Station are best avoided between 4:45 and 6pm, as long queues may form outside.
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