Presenting a more macabre side of jolly old London town, the Tower of London is one of the best places to see history frozen in time. A fortress, palace and prison all in one, there was no missing the mighty Tower dominating London's skyline in the 1080s. One can only imagine the tales that would surface if these walls could talk.
The massive stone Tower of London was unlike anything else at the time of its conception in the early 11th century. Set on the north bank of the River Thames, the Tower been fiercely protected, besieged and expanded upon over the centuries. While it is best known as a site of torture, the Tower served many purposes including long stints as a royal residence, treasury, armoury and public records office. Embellished with some of the world's most opulent and unique gems, you can see the Crown Jewels which have been kept under guard at the Tower since the 1300s.
Taking pride of place at the Tower of London is the White Tower, its iconic turrets and imposing exterior designed to inspire awe and fear among the commoners. Saturated with history, the White Tower tours and exhibitions are a popular to-do on holidays in London, with hands-on experiences like wearing a gauntlet and handling a sword. People weren't the only prisoners at the Tower of London – for many centuries the Tower was a menagerie of exotic animals (mostly given as gifts to the royal family), which were rumoured to include an ale-loving zebra that would sneak into the canteen for a tipple.
A visit to the Tower of London isn't complete without hearing captivating accounts of bloodshed. Witnessing a public execution at Tower Hill was considered a grand outing for the whole family, whereas the privileged were beheaded in private at Tower Green including the likes of Anne Boleyn and Robert Devereux. Countless miscreants, innocents and royals were held against their will and died by order of the state, but not before leaving their mark (sometimes literally) on their cell walls. Take the Circle Line or District Line to Tower Hill and soak in the gruesome history of London's most enigmatic attraction.