Palace of Westminster and Elizabeth Tower
Situated across Westminster Abbey is Palace of Westminster- both on the north side of River Thames- also known as Houses of Parliament because of its two occupants: House of Commons and House of Lords. Originally built in 1016 in Perpendicular Gothic Revival style, it was demolished in 1834 because of a fire and rebuilt again from 1840 to 1870. When it was first built, it was the primary residence of the Kings of England, until a fire destroyed most of the buildings in 1512. Since then, it became the base for the Parliament of England of which meetings have been conducted since the 13th century. Today, the palace serves as an integral centre of the country’s political welfare. Palace of Westminster was classified as a Grade I listed building since 1970 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
At the north end of the Palace of Westminster lies the very famous clock and clock tower, Big Ben, also known as Elizabeth Tower. This is an important symbol of London and is a British cultural icon. It was completed in 1859. Big Ben is a focus of New Year celebrations in the country, with TV and radio stations tuning to its chimes welcoming the new year.