Since 2010 tourism in the United Kingdom has been the biggest growing sector in terms of employment, with the industry estimated to worth over £257 billion by 2025. Almost 10% of all citizens in the UK are employed either directly or indirectly as a result of tourism, and the industry currently accounts for around 9% of the country’s GDP.
The London 2012 Olympics were a stunning success in broadcasting the country to a wider audience. Further global events such as the Tour de France, Tour de Yorkshire and Royal Weddings have further broadcast Britain to an eager world of tourists.
One of the main reasons that tourists from countries such as Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand visit the UK is for the rich history that the country has. Reminders of a medieval kingdom run by kings and queens are on show in several cities, as well as some of the pomp and circumstance from colonial days.
These two different elements of British history allowed for the erection of a series of stunning buildings around the country. If you’re thinking of visiting the UK in the future, here is your definitive list of buildings to visit in this Sceptred Isle.
Durham Cathedral, County Durham
Saint Cuthbert first used the ground that the Durham Cathedral now sits on to teach students of the ways of Christianity. Almost 100 years after Saint Cuthbert’s primitive classes Durham Cathedral was erected and has stood resplendent ever since 1093.
For the first two centuries of its existence, the Cathedral was used as a monastic sanctuary for a group of devout Benedictine monks. However following religious reforms it was surrendered by the crown in 1539 and became a public place of worship.
In 1986 the building was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site listing it as a place of architectural and historical importance. The casino was briefly used as a prison by Oliver Cromwell to house 3,000 Scottish prisoners of war.
Today it is still an active Cathedral but opens its doors to tourists from all around the world as well as offering guided tours. Durham Cathedral also has the oldest surviving stone vault in the world and is recognised as one of the first buildings in the world to blend Romanesque architecture with gothic architecture.
Elizabeth Tower, London
Our tour of the must-see buildings in Britain moves to London, where it will stay for the remainder of this article. Your first port of call in the British capital should be to the Elizabeth Tower, nicknamed Big Ben after the name given to the bell at the top of the structure.
Elizabeth Tower stands at the north side of the famous House of Parliament and was officially opened on 31st May, 1859 with the first chimes of the bell being heard 6 weeks later on the 11th July 1859.
This famous tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Britain let alone in the capital London. Every year it provides the back drop for the New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration and it ushers in the New Year with its trademark gongs.
The Hippodrome, London
Right on the corner of Cranbourn Street and Charing Cross Road is where the Hippodrome is situated. The building was initially opened in mid-1900 and cost a reported £250,000 to construct, which in today’s money would be just under £30 million.
It was first used as a venue for variety performances and gave Charlie Chaplin an early opportunity to showcase his talents to a large audience. For the next 50 years it became a theatre showing a series of famous operas before being converted into a nightclub in 1958.
In 2009 the lease for the Hippodrome was acquired by Leicester based entrepreneurs Jimmy and Simon Thomas who converted the building into a casino with the grand opening being done by then Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
The Hippodrome casino is a classic style gambling centre with stunning interiors and opulent decorations adorning the walls. There are a wide range of games available to punters, but the most popular is roulette – a game that draws punters in from far and wide. If you’re visiting the Hippodrome to spin the wheel, make sure you go in with a strategy and a good understanding of roulette odds, so you can enjoy the experience and enjoy the building without losing all of your money!
The Houses of Parliament, London
Seen as you’re in the area you may as well head to the Houses of Parliament after your trip to Elizabeth Tower. The French verb ‘parler’ means ‘to speak’ and that is the etymology of the Houses of Parliament, a forum for politicians to convene and discuss the pressing matters of the day.
The Palace of Westminster as it was once known was of vast importance in the Middle Ages as it was strategically situated on the River Thames that intersected the city of London. In the early Palace the King or Queen would meet at the Palace to convene with their advisors and decide all manner of policy ranging from the intricacies of feudal policy to the funding of wars against the French and middle eastern crusades.
It wasn’t until the late 19th-century that the Palace of Westminster became what we know of now. Political behemoths such as Arthur Balfour and Benjamin Disraeli went head to head in the halls of Westminster.
During the Second World War the Houses of Parliament were bombed relentlessly by the Germans. One night the severity of a blast from a nearby bomb lifted a statue of Richard the Lionheart from its pedestal, bending his sword in the process.
The image of Richard’s bent sword was successfully used as a propaganda image during the war promoting the ideal that democracy could be bent, but not broken. Nowadays you will be more likely to encounter a frantic Teresa May fending off the dissenters from her own part whilst trying to formulate a Brexit deal than seeing a lasting memory of World War Two.
Wembley Stadium, London
The England football team’s national stadium is the footballing mecca of the world and the home of the most popular sport on the planet. The current stadium was opened in 2007 with a match between England and Italy under 21’s after the original stadium was demolished in 2001
The redevelopment of the stadium cost just over 1 billion pounds and was designed by Nathaniel Lichfield and partners. Despite the stadium being new, history is all around the venue with mementos from the original stadium that hark back to the birth of football.
Traditionally only the England football team used to play at the stadium, but now Tottenham Hotspur are using it as their home ground so you can make sure your visit coincides with a Spurs home match and experience the stadium to the full.