Tower of London
One of the most famous forts in the world—in the heart of London.
The Tower of London is one of the most famous forts in the world and one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in London, UK. In the course of its almost 1,000-year history, it has served as an arms store, prison, execution site, zoo and jewel house. Here you can find out everything you need to know about the Tower of London—from the exciting history to recommended tours.
Table of Contents
The Tower of London Today
The Tower of London, as we said above, is one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in London, and one of the city’s most popular attractions. History has been written and told here for 955 years. There are really many interesting exhibitions here: Royal Armories (the British Museum of Arms and Armor), the British Crown Jewels, the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (exhibition mainly consists of old uniforms, badges, flags and medals) and many more.
Home of the Crown Jewels
What would the British and their monarchy be without the famous Crown Jewels? The collection of diamonds and jewels is considered to be the most valuable in the world and of course also includes the legendary crown that the British heads of state wear at their coronation. The collection has been housed in the Jewel House in the Waterloo Barracks within the Tower of London since the late 1960s. And there we can now get an idea of the pieces of jewelry—when visiting the Tower, a detour to the Jewel House should definitely not be missed.
Royal Armories Exhibition
But the Tower of London has even more attractions, including the Royal Armories exhibition. Anyone interested in weapon history and armor has definitely come to the right place. Armaments from Henry VIII and Charles I can be found as well as medieval revolvers and cannons.
Ceremony of the Keys
You already know the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace and did you like it? Then the Ceremony of the keys might be something for you. The Tower of London has been closed every evening for over 700 years—without exception! You can be there when these calls echo through the darkness:
” ‘HALT, WHO COMES THER?’ — ‘THE KEYS.’ — ‘WHOSE KEYS?’ — ‘QUEEN ELIZABETH’S KEYS.’ — ‘PASS THEN, ALL’S WELL.’ “
Ice skating on the Tower of London ice rink
In the winter months you can even skate in front of the Tower of London. From November 17th to January 7th, the Tower of London ice rink is open every day from 00:11 AM to 09:00 PM. So, you can ice skate in a very special ambience.
The ravens in the Tower of London
Legend has it that at least 6 ravens must always be kept behind the walls of the Tower of London. King Charles II received the prophecy in the 17th century that the White Tower would collapse and the kingdom would perish if the ravens left the tower. Since then 6 ravens have made their home here. During your visit to the Tower of London, you will surely be able to spot the ravens.
Tower of London Tickets
The Tower of London tickets are available for adults from 28 EUR and for children from around 13 EUR, pensioners and seniors receive a discount and only pay around €22. The Tower of London is one of the most famous forts in the world. The waiting time can be correspondingly long.
It makes sense to buy the ticket online from the official website of the Tower of London beforehand if you don’t want to spend more time in line than in the tower.
Tower of London Ticket Price 2021
|Ticket type||no donation||with donation|
|Child age 5-15
under 5's go free. Children aged 5-15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Age 65+ or 16-17, full-time student, disabled visitor.
|Family saver 1
1 adult & up to 3 children (aged 5-15).
|Family saver 2
2 adults & up to 3 children (aged 5-15).
|Audio guides||From £5.00|
Tip: If you want to visit several sights, such as the London Eye Ferris Wheel, the Tower Bridge Exhibition and do tours such as a boat trip on the Thames, I recommend the London Pass! You can book it for one or more days and people and thus save a lot of entrance fee. The so-called “fast lane” access to many attractions is also particularly practical, as it saves you long queues!
Tower of London Tours
We can recommend two really great tours to you. You are spoiled for choice between a private tour of London, which also includes the Tower of London, or a sightseeing tour in which you get to know London’s dark past, including Jack the Ripper and a ghost tour. If you have enough time in London, you can of course book both tours.
Tour 1: Walking tour in London to the Tower of London & Tower Bridge
With a private guide you will get exclusive insights into the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. On this tour you will learn exciting things about the art history of both attractions. Your private guide will make you visit the Tower of London Jewel House, the White Tower and St. John’s Chapel.
After visiting the tower, head downstream to the majestic Tower Bridge. Here you can enjoy a unique panoramic view of London.
The ticket for the tour is available from 130 EUR. The tour starts at the Tower of London and lasts approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes. All entrance fees are included in the price and your guide is a professional art historian who is very knowledgeable. When booking, you can also indicate your particular interests in art, culture, history and architecture—your guide will then prepare accordingly.
Tour 2: London Super Saver: London City Sightseeing including Tower of London, Jack the Ripper & ghost tour
It gets scary on this tour. You will get to know London’s sights and its dark past. The Super Saver Tour is one of the most popular tours. You will spend the afternoon in St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, among other places. Then you have an hour of free time in which you can comfortably eat and drink something. You should do that, because afterwards you go on a 3-hour Jack the Ripper and ghost tour. You will drive to the Theater Royal Drury Lane, the darkest theater in town, and the Old Bailey, a place of public executions. You will experience goosebumps in the East End, where Jack the Ripper allegedly cruelly murdered at least five prostitutes.
The ticket for the tour is available for adults from 113 EUR and for children from 12 to 16 years from 86 EUR. The tour starts in Trafalgar Square and an air-conditioned bus takes you to the individual stops. The tour lasts approximately 7.5 hours and ends at a traditional pub near Trafalgar Square.
Important info: The minimum age for the tour is 12 years and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
History of the Tower of London
The approximately seven hectare fortress, The Tower of London, stretches along the banks of the Thames. In the 11th century, over 900 years ago, William the Conqueror had the fortress built out of wood. He built it to protect himself against hostile citizens of London, among other things. Just a few years later, his son Wilhelm II had the wooden fortress replaced by a stone building, the later White Tower. The White Tower is the main tower of the Tower of London and the largest of the fortress. In the following centuries numerous additions and alterations were made to the famous fortress.
The Tower of London has served various purposes throughout its history. We summarize the most important ones for you:
The Tower of London as an arsenal
The tower served as a warehouse for armaments and weapons from the late Middle Ages until the 20th century. During the Hundred Years War, stocks of weapons from all over England were collected in the Tower and distributed from there directly to the troops. The weapons were quickly available across the Thames and the English were able to defeat their enemies. During the Second World War, the tower was mainly used to conduct courses and train officers.
The prison in the Tower of London
From 1101 to 1941 the Tower served as a prison for criminals from London’s underworld and the surrounding areas. The reigning king also kept prisoners of war here until he distributed them to other prisons. The German National Socialist Rudolf Hess was one of the last prisoners in the Tower in 1941. About 300 carvings and graffiti by inmates are still on the walls of the prison. Most of them were immortalized on the wall with their initials and can still be viewed today.
The Tower of London as a place of execution
The prisoners sentenced to death were executed outside the gates of the fortress on Tower Hill. Henry VIII even had his ex-wives executed in the Tower of London—but in camera. His daughters also had their competitors or lovers beheaded in the Tower.
The Zoo in the Tower of London
In the Middle Ages, animals moved to the Tower of London. Predominantly wild animals such as big cats and bears were part of the court menagerie. Towards the end of the 18th century, however, interest in the animals in the tower menagerie waned. After the London Zoo opened in 1847, the animals found their new home there. Today, sculptures of the animals in the Tower remind of the time when the Tower of London functioned as a royal zoo.
The Crown Jewels in Tower of London
In 1303, the Crown Jewels were brought to the Martin Tower of the Tower of London after they had previously been stolen from Westminster Abbey. Since then, the jewels have been hidden behind the thick tower walls. The public was only allowed to view the crown jewels years after they had moved to the Tower—and only for money and under the supervision of the so-called Master of the Jewel House. The door was always locked behind them, whereupon the Master of the Jewel House took the precious jewels out of the closet and presented them to the guests.
Since the attempted robbery by Thomas Blood, visitors are unfortunately no longer allowed to look at the crown jewels up close, but only behind a pane of glass. The jewel house has been located in the Waterloo Barracks of the Tower of London since 1967. More than 23,500 jewels are safely stored in the underground vaults of the tower—it sparkles tremendously here. The Imperial State Crown is particularly impressive. The crown is adorned with 2,868 diamonds and 273 pearls. It is worn by the Queen at the annual opening of Parliament.
Would you like to see the crown jewels yourself? Then plan to make a trip to the Tower of London.