The elegant, fairytale appearance of London's Tower Bridge is a picture-perfect rendition of Victorian Gothic-style architecture designed to complement the Tower of London next-door. Completed in 1892 after eight years of construction, the bridge was the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge or drawbridge of its time and allowed passage over the Thames River to East London.
The bridge structure consists of steel framework covered in Portland stone and Cornish granite. Interestingly, the charming red, white and blue accents were only added to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, prior to this Tower Bridge was a chocolate-brown colour. The most remarkable attribute of this picturesque conduit is the enormous bascules, which were operated by hydraulics powered by steam engines and, since 1976, are now driven by oil and electricity. The bascules still open around 500 times a year to allow tall ships to pass through - bridge lift dates and times can be found on the Tower Bridge Exhibition website (www.towerbridge.org.uk).
In 1982, Tower Bridge opened to the public for the first time since 1910 with the Tower Bridge Exhibition. For £8 for adults, £3.40 for children aged five to 15 years and free for under-fives, visitors can walk into the high-level walkways 42m above the Thames, which offers panoramic views and looks out onto landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral, the Monument and St Katharine's Dock. There are exhibitions in the East and West Walkways as well as access to the Victorian Engine Rooms to see the original lifting machinery plus an interactive display of the era and a virtual bridge lift.
The closest Tube station to Tower Bridge is Tower Hill, which exits at the north side of the bridge along Tower Bridge Road. The main entrance for the Tower Bridge Exhibition is located at the northwest tower.