Tucked underneath the Shard’s gaze, the London Bridge is a popular site located in the western region of Europe in London. Being situated alongside the renowned Thames river in London, this architectural marvel offers thrilling experiences and unusual sights. This iconic site is one of the oldest structures of London, which boasts of maritime, historical, and culinary connections to the significant events that have shaped the history of the city.
In and around the London Bridge, you will find spectacular attractions, splendid sights, and an array of restaurants, bars, and shops. You will also get an opportunity to visit the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge that have gained massive popularity as global landmarks in London.
With so much to see, eat, and explore, the London Bridge is a must-visit destination for every traveler who loves experiencing the fusion of modernity with historical traditions.
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History of London Bridge
The history of the London Bridge is quite intriguing. Several events in history have shaped this structure to what it is today.
On the north shore, between the City of London and Southwark, Romans observed that the Thames river estuary is shallow. So naturally, the Romans decided to build a bridge to consolidate their new city of Londinium. Londinium is the same place where you can see the City of London now.
Soon after the Romans left, London declined, and the Thames river defined the natural border between the regions Wessex and Mercia. After this, in the 12th century, it took around 33 long years to erect a bridge of stone. This bridge also accommodated a chapel at the center to show the dedication towards the famous Thomas Becket. During those times, the pilgrims used to set off at this point for Canterbury Cathedral. Originally, this bridge had several shops and accommodated a mechanism to let the ships through. However, the Great Fire of London destroyed a significant part of the bridge. After this, several portions of the bridge started falling off, which led to the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down”, which became quite popular worldwide.
During the 16th century in London, the London Bridge accommodated structures that were seven stories high. Also, the London bridge became massively crowded, and crossing this bridge during the peak hours of the day would take more than an hour. This version of the London Bridge also featured the heads of outlaws and traitors on spikes on either side of the London bridge.
In the year 1799, the reigning king here welcomed new design modifications to the London Bridge. In 1831, John Rennie furnished the London Bridge with a new design, but it remained the most congested bridge in the region, with about 8,000 pedestrians crossing it every hour. The congestion led to the London Bridge sinking thirty years later.
Later, in 1968, America bought London Bridge for around $2,460,000. They moved every piece of the bridge to Arizona, and creatively rebuilt the entire structure. The London Bridge that you see today has concrete girders that are pre-pressed for added stability. Queen Elizabeth II made this version of London Bridge accessible to the public in 1983.
Things to do and see around London Bridge
Known to be the tallest building situated in the western part of Europe, The Shard takes over the skyline of the London Bridge. For witnessing spectacular vistas of the city of London, head straight to 68 to 72 levels that feature a viewing spot called ‘The View from The Shard’.
Once you have soaked up the stunning views of the London city, move further to explore the exciting attractions near the London Bridge Station. If you love thrilling experiences, you must check out the Herb Garret, Museum, and the Old Operating Theatre, where doctors performed several operations without any dose of anesthetic.
After this, take a short stroll towards the Borough Market that is known to be the oldest food market in London. It remains open on all days of the week except Sundays and features a variety of food traders who sell delicious cheese, artisan cakes, fish, meat, veggies, bread, and so much more.
Right next to the Borough Market, you will find Southwark Cathedral. This is the oldest church in London based on gothic values and is worth a visit.
Your visit to the London Bridge would be incomplete without a stroll alongside the Thames river. While strolling along the Thames river, you will find an incredible range of things to do. For a bit of retail therapy, head to the Hay’s Galleria, which is a shopping center housed in a remarkable space. There are several free events that take place frequently by the Thames river. To experience these events or to enjoy the beauty of the Thames river, you can head to Potters Field Park or the Scoop located beside the London City Hall.
If you want to experience the heat of the battle, hop on the HMS Belfast, which is a big gun warship from WWII. This naval warship features a total of nine decks with simulated radar units and operating rooms.
Go further downstream to venture into the London Tower Bridge to explore the working of this world-famous bridge. Do not forget to walk over the pathway made of glass to witness the breathtaking view of London.
If you like keeping up with the latest trends in the fashion world, you must check out the Fashion and Textile Museums where you can visit the fascinating exhibitions.
If you are exploring London Bridge with your children, make sure that you take them to the Unicorn Theatre. Here, several eclectic young artists set up a program to display their talents.
After a day of exploring the different parts of London Bridge, enjoy some leisure time in the London Bridge Theatre, which is a riverside venue with over 900 seats.
Where to eat around London Bridge: Bars and Restaurants
London Bridge was also known as “London’s Larder” during the earlier times. When large quantities of exotic food from all over the world were shipped to London, they were stacked carefully in the warehouses by the river. Today, you can find a range of culinary experiences that caters to every budget and palate.
When you are wandering through the Borough Market in London, you will get to sample a number of interesting food options and drinks along the way. If you are there for a weekend, head to the popular destination Bermondsey, where you can find the Maltby Street Market. Even here, you can grab a few tasty bites of local delicacies sold by local artisans and food producers.
Recently, the London Tower Bridge launched an array of delicate eating joints. These include The Coal Shed, The Ivy Brasserie, Tom Simmons, and Baluchi. Here, you will also find one of the Michelin star restaurants in London, Restaurant Story, which is head by Chef Tom Sellers. At Restaurant Story, you can taste some of the most uniquely curated dishes presented with near perfection. The chef here curates phenomenal dishes using only the seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced.
If you want to dine in style, try out the Asian Fare featured by Ting and Hutong. You can also glance at the stunning bird’s eye view of London city from here. All you grilled-food lovers, must go to Oblix, where you can find a variety of grilled food. If you want to sample modern British cuisine, visit The Aqua Shard that is located nearby.
To enjoy panoramas that are down-to-earth, head to the European eateries like Cantina del Ponte, Le Pont de la Tour, and Cote Brasserie. To experience more variety in the European cuisines, you can try out the dishes at the several riverside establishments located in More London.
There are a host of independent eateries and restaurants tucked away in Bermondsey Street in London. These include Champor-Champor, Tanner & Co., Texas Joe’s, Londrino, and Pizzaro.
If you feel like dining in a quiet place without the hustle-bustle of the crowd, visit Antico Restaurant, which exudes an epitome of class and antiqueness. The menu here changes according to the seasons in London. The contemporary dishes featured by this restaurant show a perfect blend of authenticity and modernity.
If you are on the lookout for a few exciting pubs and bars in and around London Bridge, try the Upper Deck Bar hidden in HMS Belfast. This place features an unbeatable alfresco inspired setting. To enjoy the outstanding London city views while sipping on a drink, you must go to GONG. Another famous place to visit in London to lounge leisurely is the George Inn. This place gained massive popularity after Charles Dickens mentioned it in a write-up on London. If you want to quench your thirst with an outstanding variety of cocktails and mocktails, go to London Grind, Quarter Bar, or Nine Lives.
You must not miss visiting the London Bridge area when on a trip to London and a chance to marvel at this significant historical structure of London and enjoy all its offerings. From panoramic London city views to highly delectable food, London Bridge has something for every type of traveler.