After the 1834 fire that wiped out most of the Parliamentary buildings in London, the plan was started to build “Big Ben” as part of the reconstruction. The Clock Tower was built in a time of Gothic Revival Architecture in England and was finished in 1859. During this period, admirers of Gothic Architecture sought to revive it as an alternative to the neoclassical styles that were being used extensively at the time. The original Gothic Architectural style started in France from around the 1150’s. It quickly spread across Europe as an influence for many Castles, Palaces and Churches. The characteristics that helped it gain popularity started with the innovations in structural engineering that allowed them to build incredibly tall stone structures. This was a welcome change to the thick castle walls of the past that caused interiors to be very dark and damp. With the height came the vaulted ceilings and tall archways that allowed light to flood into the buildings. A focus on aesthetics also became a staple characteristic of Gothic Architecture, with ornate details prevalent throughout the designs. These attributes can be clearly seen in the design of the clock tower. It was built with cast iron, Yorkshire Anston stone and Cornish Granite to create the grandeur structure, and it was built from the inside out so that no scaffolding was visible to the exterior.
I think it is safe to say that “Big Ben” is one of the most recognisable buildings in London and it draws many visitors to see it in the flesh. It is an easy 10 minute walk from London Waterloo station so it’s very accessible and is surrounded by a number of other tourist traps, including the London Eye. However, if you wanted to climb the 399 steps to the top of Elizabeth Tower you must be a UK resident! 2017 starts some extensive refurbishment works to the tower and clock, so tours are now suspended until 2020, but it is definitely worth a visit to this iconic landmark. A great place to view it is from the riverside where it tends to be much quieter. Here you can see it in all its glory alongside the Houses of Parliament.
– “Big Ben” actually refers to the Bell within the Clock Tower but has extended to include the building itself. The clock tower is now called Elizabeth Tower which was renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
– Three characteristics of Gothic Architecture in Elizabeth Tower are it’s tall stone structure, pointed arch windows and ornate detailling.