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London and its sights.

London has nearly 2,000 years of recorded history. It was founded as Londinium by the Romans, following their invasion in A.D. 4-3. They built the first wooden bridge and in A.D. 120 began the construction of the defensive walls, fragments of which can still be seen today.

The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed three quarters of the City - the commercial and financial centre of London. After that the old timber houses were replaced by buildings of brick in order to reduce any future fire risk. Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt St. Paul's Cathedral and designed 51 new churches, of which 23 still stand. The magnificent classical structure of the Cathedral is crowned by the spectacular (эффектный) dome. Inside the dome are scenes from the life of St. Paul painted by Sir James Thornhill. There too is the famous Whispering Gallery, where the slightest sound can be heard right round its circumference (окружность). There are many memorials in the cathedral too.

Westminster, now the political centre of London, can boast of its history and architectural memorials. Westminster Abbey was built by Henry III in the 13th century. All coronations have taken place there. The Abbey contains many tombs end memorials to eminent men and women, but perhaps the most popular ones are those to writers, actors and musicians in Poet's Corner.

The present Houses of Parliament built after the old palace burnt down in 1834 attract immediate attention. Big Ben chimes the hours. Its minute hands are 14 ft. long. In Parliament square opposite you can see a number of statues to famous statesmen, including Sir Winston Churchill.

Tourists usually visit Downing Street, named after Sir George Downing, one of Harvard's first graduates in 1642. No. 10 has been the Prime Minister's official residence since the 18th century. Buckingham Palace, the queen's official London residence is another place of interest in Westminster. The Queen's Gallery holds regular changing exhibitions of works from the royal collections, and at the Royal News you can see the Queen's horses and carriage, including the magnificent State Carriage used for coronations.

The private gardens of Buckingham Palace extent to Hyde Park Corner - Hyde Park and the adjoining Kensington Gardens together form one of London's largest open spaces and provide plenty of scope for leisure activities. Speakers' Corner is popular with tourists. There, on Sundays, people are free to give voice to their opinion on almost every subject.

Trafalgar Square is famous for its pigeons [pidzenz](голуби), demonstrations and New Year Celebrations. It was laid out in 1829-41 to commemorate the great navel battle of 1805 when the French fleet was defended by the English under Admiral Lord Nelson. In the centre of the Square is the 170 ft Nelson's Column.

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