Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, also known as The Tower of London,
is an internationally famous monument and one of England’s most iconic structures.
William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1066 as a demonstration of Norman power, siting it strategically on the River Thames to act as both fortress and gateway to the capital. It is the most complete example of an 11th century fortress palace remaining in Europe.
A rare survival of a continuously developing ensemble of royal buildings, from the 11th to 16th centuries,
the Tower of London has become one of the symbols of royalty.
It also fostered the development of several of England’s major State institutions, incorporating such fundamental roles as the nation’s defense, its record-keeping and its coinage.
Today the Tower of London is best known for its Crown Jewels,
but it used to be notorious for the many political opponents of the kings that were locked, tortured and killed in the Tower.
The Tower was also a royal residence:
several kings lived here, especially during turbulent times when the donjon seemed a lot safer than the palace in Westminster.
It has been the setting for key historical events in European history, including the execution of three English queens.
The so-called Beefeaters or Yeoman Warders, dressed in historic clothes, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London.
In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners in the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels,
but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right, a point the Yeomen Warders acknowledge.
One of the about forty Yeoman Warders is known as the Ravenmaster,
responsible for the ravens that have been living here for centuries.
Legend has it that the Tower and the kingdom will fall if the ravens leave.
Hence King Charles II placed the birds under royal protection
and the wings of the ravens are clipped to prevent them from flying away.