More formally known as Her Majesty's Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London is most famously known as a prison and execution site for high-profile criminals, usually accused of high treason. Enemies of the state were brought to it along the Thames, entering through 'Traitor's Gate'.
Key people to be executed here included William Hastings, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and Robert Devereux.
In the 20th Century executions included 11 German spies captured during WW1.
Elizabeth I was imprisoned in the White Tower during the reign of her sister Mary.
The most recent prisoner was Rudolf Hess was held here for 4 days during WW2.
William the Conqueror ordered it to be built from stone, imported from Normandy, so that it would be able to withstand any attack on London.
Richard the Lionheart then upgraded its defences with a moat.
King John then decided to use it as a Royal Menagerie to house animals from home and abroad. The menagerie was opened to the public in 1804 and thus became London's first zoo until being replaced by the current London Zoo at Regents Park in 1835.
Apart from being a tourist attraction, the Tower is used to guard the priceless Crown Jewels, used to crown sovereigns on their Coronation Day. The guardians of the Tower are famously recognised in their red tunics and black stockings and being known as the 'Beafeaters'.
The Tower is also the home to 7 black ravens which must be fed at the expense of the government. If no ravens reside at the Tower, then the country is believed to be under threat of invasion!
HM Tower of London
London EC3N 4AB
Nearest Underground: Tower Hill (Circle & District line/DLR)
Please note - During the duration of the work to make Tower Hill a more accessible, safe and traffic-free civic space, public access to the Tower of London will be diverted via the Tower Moat. From Tower Hill Underground Station signs will direct the public down temporary steps into the moat, where a specially-constructed path will lead them to another set of temporary steps and from there up to the ticket kiosks.
1 November - 28 February
Tuesday - Saturday: 09.00-17.00
Sunday - Monday: 10.00-17.00
Last admission: 16.00
1 March - 31 October
Monday - Saturday: 09.00-18.00
Last admission: 17.00
All internal buildings close 30 minutes after the last admission. The Tower closes one hour after the last admission.
The Tower is closed 24-26 December and 1 January (inclusive).