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Big Ben

Big Ben (42)

Before talking about Big Ben we should clear up a few things beforehand: you are probably used to referring to this 96-metre high tower that stands out above the structure of the Houses of Parliament and whose clock shows the really famous carillon. 

Well, although when we speak of Big Ben everyone understands that we are referring to this neo-Gothic tower designed by the architect Sir Charles Barry, we should really use its correct name: Clock Tower. The name Big Ben in reality refers to the massive bell weighing 13.5 tons that strikes the hours. Moreover, the official name of the bell is the Great Bell, Big Ben being a type of nickname. 

The origin of the name is not clear, however. Some people suggest that it is down to Benjamin Hall, a corpulent man who was prefect of Public Works when the bell was installed in 1858. Others think that it comes from the name of Ben Caunt, the famous boxer of the time.

The clock, famous for its accuracy, has 4 faces measuring 7 meters diameter each one. Its designers were Sir George Airey and Edmund Denison, while the person entrusted to build the clock mechanism was Edward Dent. 

In 1857 the first attempt to make the clock work was dashed when the bell broke due to the use of a too low clapper. The definitive bell, which sounded for the first time in 1859, measures 2.7 metres in diameter and has a small crack. We know that the complicated operation of hoisting it to the top of the tower took 18 hours.

In short, Big Ben is a veritable symbol of the city of London and is one of the most commonly recognisable buildings. Its image has also been used in hundreds of films, series, TV ads… and you will surely remember the act of vandalism that Tim Burton committed in his film Mars Attacks!, when some Martians completely destroyed the tower.

What more can we say... the visit is an absolute must, as essential as it is to take a photo.

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