The true City of London, or the Square Mile, forms the financial heart and hub of London. It’s a place of steel and glass, of suits and speed and the habit of gambling on the future rather than rambling on about the past. Yet among some stunning new buildings, the decadence of the Victorian era and the legacy of ancient Rome live on.
Just a few hundred yards from Tower Hill tube station, these former city walls stand outside the Grange City Hotel. Roman walls form the base, with the more uneven section at the top a remnant of the medieval London boundary.
Next up is the tiny St Andrew Undershaft church, a medieval building that looks decidedly out of place on St Mary Axe, surrounded as it is by some of the City’s most famous modern buildings. Somehow it survived the Great Fire of London, the bombing of the Blitz and enthusiasm of the property developers and now sits snug and smug between the Gherkin, the Willis Building and the Lloyds Building:
Opposite the Gherkin, you can step back to the 1930s with this Art Deco extravaganza:
Then, by disappearing down a few side streets, you reach the Victorian Leadenhall Market…
..to return right back to the present day with the rather eccentric Stirling Building at 1 Poultry Lane:
Yet there’s one building that will, to me at least, forever represent the City of London: St Paul’s Cathedral.
A special thanks to Context Travel* for arranging an extremely intelligent guide to show me the secrets of the City of London. Context Travel* arrange scholarly led tours of the world’s greatest cities and you can find out more about them here.
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com