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Whether you’re looking for fun facts about London to figure out how in the world those Tower of London ravens came to be, or maybe you’re wondering why everyone thinks Tower Bridge is called London Bridge, this city is rife with fascinating facts and figures.
After all, this is a city that was built before gridded streets, and it’s in Britain so you can automatically assume there are plenty of weird and wonderful traditions that have stayed because…well, just because!
Enjoy this guide to some of the coolest London facts, and use them for a London pub quiz or just enhance your own knowledge so you’ll be showing off your London trivia as you tour its amazing landmarks.
1. The big, famous bridge isn’t called London Bridge, it’s actually Tower Bridge!
2. Part of the original London Bridge is now in…Arizona! It was purchased and dismantled in 1967 and put in Arizona in 1971.
3. London is different from the City of London. The “City of London” is just one square mile that contains the historic center.
4. The most popular attraction? The British Museum
5. Big Ben isn’t the clock – it’s the bell!
6. Over 300 languages are spoken in London
7. London has previously been named the world’s most vegan-friendly city
8. The River Thames is chock full of eels!
9. The oldest pub in London is the Lamb and Flag
10. Taxi drivers have to take, and pass the “Knowledge,” including every London street
11. St. Paul’s Cathedral survived 57 nights of bombing during World War II
12. The London Underground has 270 stations!
13. Covent Garden was originally the convent garden for Westminster Abbey.
14. The London Eye was built for the Millenium, and then was never taken down!
15. “The City,” in Roman times, had walls
16. A movement called “Legible London” led to plenty of pedestrian maps being built around the city for visitors
17. The Churchill War Rooms, today a museum, contains 27 room and was the fortified center for British operations in World War II
18. The fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square is changed regularly, swapping out different statues
19. Part of the Nelson Memorial in Trafalgar Square is made from melted-down cannons.
20. When the Queen is at home, the royal standard flies above Buckingham Palace (red, yellow, blue flag). When she’s not in, you’ll see the Union Jack.
21. The ravens at the Tower of London only respond to the Ravenmaster.
22. The Millenium Bridge was the first London bridge in the new century, and it shook when you walked on it!
23. Shakespeare’s Globe (the replica) was the first thatched roof in London since the Great FIre of 1666.
24. The Southwark area used to be filled with debauchery and lawlessness, including brothels, fighting, and more.
25. The Golden Hinde ship is a full replica of the ship sailed by Sir Francis Drake, the first to circumnavigate the globe.
26. City Hall is nicknamed “the armadillo.”
27. Britain’s oldest operating theatre, today a museum, used to use saws with no anaesthetic to amputate.
28. Westminster Cathedral is the largest Catholic church in England
29. Hyde Park was originally the hunting grounds of Henry VIII
30. London’s Olympic games in 2012 were the greenest games ever
31. The iconic scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone where the snake breaks out of its cage was filmed at the Reptile House at London Zoo
32. In 1868, the world’s first traffic light was installed in what is now Whitehall
33. One of the most popular trees in London is the “plane tree,” which has waxy leaves and bark that regenerates
34. The guarded metal gates outside of 10 Downing Street were installed in 1989 during the Irish Troubles
35. Westminster Abbey has over 3,000 tombs
36. The British Library has over 180 miles of shelving and the deepest basement in London
37. In the 1700s, London was filled with coffee houses, not tea rooms!
38. Fleet Street was the most important street in London for the press, hosting newspapers and reporters. Today, it’s mostly finance.
39. The narrow alleyways and twisting roads are basically street plans from medieval times
40. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub dating back to 1667, was frequented by Charles Dickens
41. Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital, own the rights to Peter Pan after being gifted the rights by JM Barrie in 1929