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The Short Guide to the City of London

The City of London contains the historic centre and main financial business district of London. Rather confusing for visitors but it is easier to understand the City of London as a city within a city. It was within the boundaries of the City of London that London developed from the Roman settlement in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages.

Since then London has grown dramatically and now the City forms a small part of the capital. Due to its development the city has a number of unusual rules and regulations and has its own mayor and police force.

The City of London is often referred to as the City or by its nickname the Square Mile, the City is a major business and financial centre which grew dramatically in the 19th century into one of the world’s main business centres. Although the City has a very small resident population of around 10,000, over 300,000 people commute to work here every day. Around three-quarters of the jobs in the City of London are in the financial, professional, and business services sectors. There is a large legal profession presence in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located.

The City of London is not considered a major tourist destination, many of the bars, restaurants and shops close at the weekend. However there are a large number of free attractions and buildings like The Bank of England, Mansion House, The Royal Exchange and the Guildhall that can make a visit to the City, a worthwhile experience.

The ancient City was defended by a London Wall, parts of which can be seen in various locations and the names of streets and roads offer clues to their previous use. The City suffered a disaster with the Great Fire of London in 1666 which destroyed great parts of the City.

After the fire of 1666, there were a number of plans to modernise the City but generally the medieval street pattern still exists. The original St Paul’s was destroyed in the fire and it was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and is considered to be one of the finest cathedrals in Britain.

From the late 16th century, London became a major centre for banking, international trade and commerce. The Royal Exchange was founded by Sir Thomas Gresham and the Bank of England moved to its present site in 1734.

Like many areas of London, the City suffered considerable damage from bombing raids during World War II and the resulting fires. In the second half of the 20th century, the City changed dramatically with the construction of modern and larger-scale developments.

After the 1970s, saw the construction of tall office buildings including the Natwest Tower, 30 St. Mary Axe (“the Gherkin”‘), Leadenhall Building (“the Cheesegrater”), 20 Fenchurch Street (“the Walkie-Talkie”), the Broadgate Tower and the Heron Tower. Another skyscraper, 22 Bishopsgate the tallest of all has just finished its construction.

These skyscrapers have changed the character of the City but it remains a fascinating mix of old and new.

The City of London is a wonderful place to explore with small green spaces, hidden alleyways, old and modern churches, historic buildings and modern sculptures.

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