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Palace of Westminster, also known as the House of Parliament, is located on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster in central London.
1. Palace of Westminster was originally a royal residence built in the 11th century for Edward the Confessor. In 1512, much of the structure was destroyed in a fire. It was rebuilt but was destroyed again in another fire in 1834.
2. The construction of the palace as it stands today began in 1840 and lasted 30 years, suffering long delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both principal architects. It was built especially for Parliament and modern democracy.
3. Palace of Westminster contains over 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8 kilometers of lobbies, which are spread over four floors.
4. The ground floor is occupied by offices, dining rooms and bars. The first floor houses the main rooms of the Palace, including the debate rooms, lobbies, and libraries. The next two floors are used as commission rooms and offices.
5. Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, has the largest medieval roof in England, measuring 20.7×73.2 meters.
6. Measuring 33.5×13.7 meters, the Royal Gallery is one of the largest rooms in the Palace. It is used for important occasions, including state receptions, meals, and parliamentary ceremonies, often with members of both Houses present.
7. The building has a color code: gold in the parts used by the Monarch, red for the House of Lords and green for the House of Commons. Initially, this hierarchy of colors, green being the lowest grade, reflected the importance of each element in the Parliament. Over the years, the power of the Monarch and the Lords diminished. Since 1689, the House of Commons has become the most important of the two chambers.
8. The House of Commons, where members of the Parliament meet, is relatively small and can accommodate only 427 of the 650 members of the Parliament. The room measures 14×20.7 meters.
9. The House of Lords measures 13.7×24.4 meters. The upper part of the Chamber is decorated with stained glass windows and six allegorical frescoes representing religion, chivalry, and law.
10. The exterior of the Palace of Westminster, especially the Elizabeth Tower, measures 96.3 meters and houses the bell known as Big Ben. It is located on the banks of the River Thames and is recognized worldwide, being one of the most visited tourist attractions in London.
11. The faces of the Big Ben clock are cleaned every five years by a specialized team that climbs the 334 steps of the tower and washes each one with buckets of soap and water until they shine.
12. Victoria Tower is the square tower at the south-west end of the Palace of Westminster. Measuring 98.5 meters, it is slightly taller than the Elizabeth Tower at the northern end of the Palace.
13. The Central Tower is the smallest of the three main towers of the Palace (measuring 91 meters) and is located above the central hall.
14. Inside the palace, there are numerous bars, cafes, restaurants, pubs, hairdressing salon, gym, and post office.
15. Claude Monet painted a series of oil paintings of the Palace of Westminster in the autumn of 1899 and in the early months of 1900 and 1901 during his stays in London.
16. During World War II, Palace of Westminster was bombed on fourteen different occasions.
17. Pets are not allowed in the Palace of Westminster, except for guide dogs. Sniffer dogs and police horses are also allowed in the field.
18. It is illegal to die inside the Palace of Westminster. Under current UK law, a person who dies there is not entitled to a national funeral.
If you want to find out about Westminster Abbey, check out our article on this topic: 7 interesting facts about Westminster Abbey.
[Photo from Pixabay]