But with so much history, there have to be some strange and unusual facts to impress even the most knowledgeable amongst them. The kind of historical footnote that, once shared, will cause them to nod in appreciation at your knowledge of their home city. Here are some unusual facts that will ensure you appear to know the most about this great metropolis.
Most Londoners will know about the Great Fire of London of 1666, and that it was started by a baker in Pudding Lane. Fewer will know that London burned for four days, and four-fifths of the City of London was destroyed. Not many will know that only six people were reported to have died.
Even if you have made the trip to Parliament Square or walked over Westminster Bridge, the chances are you still have not seen, Big Ben. The landmark you would have seen was actually The Elizabeth Tower - Big Ben is the name of the 13-ton bell that is housed inside.
Another landmark with its own secret is Cleopatra’s Needle, the Egyptian artefact located on the Victoria Embankment. It was given to England in the early 19th Century by the then Egyptian ruler, Muhammad Ali in thanks for the victories of Lord Nelson and Sir Ralph Abercromby in the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Alexandra in 1798 and 1801 respectively. It was finally erected in 1838 by the Thames.
Less known to Londoners is the fact it is a time capsule. When it was erected, several items were placed underneath, including; a copy of the bible, a map of London, newspapers of the day and 12 photographs of the prettiest English women of the time.
A few other little known facts to impress.
- London buses have not always been red. Before 1907, different bus routes had different-coloured buses.
- There were no Roads in the City of London until 1994 when the boundary changed. Streets, Lanes and Ways but not a single Road.
- It is possible to visit the exact centre of London. The plaque can be found in the Church of St Martins in the Fields, on the East side of Trafalgar Square.