The iconic royal fortress-castle that sits on the north bank of the Thames River was constructed back in 1078 by William the Conqueror. Since then, it has served different purposes as a royal palace, a place of execution, and a political prison. But over the years it has survived and today is among the most fascinating landmarks and most visited tourist attractions in London.
A visit to the Grounds of the Tower offers several highlights. The Jewel House impresses with the monarchy's most exquisite collection counting 23,578 gems. The most prominent treasure must be the Imperial State Crown decorated with 2,868 diamonds and 269 pearls, as well as 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies.
One of the most striking observations you're going to make is the wide presence of ravens all over the premises. These birds are well-cared for and even have their own guard. According to ancient superstition, ravens are the guardians of the Tower and can't leave it, otherwise, the Crown will fall and England along with it.
The guards of the Tower of London, also known as Beefeaters or Yeoman Warders, are an object of special interest as well. Nowadays they are mostly guides and entertainers rather than wards. They are great narrators of intriguing tales and will bewilder you with the horrors of imprisonment, torture, and execution which once took place in the Tower of London. Free tours with Yeoman Warders run every 30 minutes, starting from 10:30 am to the last one scheduled for 3:30 pm for summer and 2:30 pm for winter.
Execution site is the favourite of many. Despite its grisly fame, it has seen relatively few decapitations. Some of the most notorious scaffolds were those of the Henry III's second wife Anne Boleyn, and the humanist Sir Thomas More. Watch out for the ghosts. However, ghosts seem not to like crowds and are more likely to disclose themselves only in private which is nearly impossible at such a popularity rate.
Tower of London is open all year, but it's most crowded in the summer months. So if you choose this season, try to come either early in the morning or during the lunch time which is early afternoon, when the crowds are thinner. Also buy tickets online beforehand to save your queue waiting time. Generally, winter is much less crowded than any other season.