This week’s guest post on historic London is from Bespoke Traveler’s Atreyee Gupta (writer) and Jesse Japitana (photographer).
This wasn’t our first trip to London. We’d been before as teenagers (separately of course) who got driven around to all the classic sights: Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and so on. None of it made much of an impression on either of us at the time except that these buildings were extremely large and rather old. So, before we went back to London this time, we wondered: why does everyone go to see these buildings? What makes them uniquely English? What is so fascinating about Hampton Court that it draws so many people to see it? Why is Saint Paul’s cathedral considered by so many to be quintessentially London?
When we dug through the historical records for these buildings and investigated how landmarks like the Tower of London first came into existence, we found captivating narratives about the royal forces behind these monuments. Before architecture became a career path for the common man, kings and queens thought up, designed, and fashioned the palaces, gardens, and roadways that make up today’s London. Their understanding of construction materials, their aesthetic values, and their personal agendas determined the look of their cityscapes.
In hunting for why Saint Paul is known as the epitome of English Renaissance design, we also discovered Charles II’s passion to rebuild a classically beautiful London after its devastating fire in 1666. While searching for the reason behind those tiny Romanesque windows in the Tower of London, we stumbled upon William the Conqueror’s eye for simple beauty in the Tower’s intimate chapel.
Our exploration suddenly humanized these famous buildings and gave them a story full of color and drama. It gave us an intimate perspective of London that few people get to experience when they run from sight to sight. It even made modern London more approachable as we began to see how the city struggles to adapt to the future while celebrating its past. A city seen as chaotic, noisy, and garbled on past visits transformed into a vibrant, breathing entity, one that we could develop a lasting relationship with. We’ll never see London in the same old light again.
Bespoke Traveler (Atreyee Gupta and Jesse Japitana) seeks the type of travel experience shared here, whatever destination they choose to explore. They love to unearth the compelling stories hidden underneath everyday objects, landmarks, and historic dates to share with readers. They each bring their own skills to the partnership; among other duties, Atreyee is the writer and Jesse, the photographer. For more of their travel stories, visit www.bespoketraveler.com. You can buy their digital book, Cities of Kings: Royal Architecture of London and Paris, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple. Bespoke Traveler can be found on both Twitter and Facebook.
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