London - Westminster
Westminster  is an important locality in the centre of Greater London, and a city in its own right, the twin to the ancient City of London further down the River Thames - together they formed the focus to the modern conurbanation that is London. Westminster has been the seat of royal, and later parliamentary, government and power for 900 years. As a result, many of its attractions are of an historical and cultural variety. Even so, Westminster retains very much a bustling, modern feel as the centre of British government.
Westminster itself refers to those areas by the River Thames around the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Westminster Abbey. The city has also lent its name, however, to the London borough that covers much of central London (the West End) to the north and west - so don't get confused! For the traveller, it is important to remember that Westminster in the narrow, traditional sense (that used in Wikitravel) is bounded to the north by Trafalgar Square and Soho, to the east by Covent Garden, and so on.
The Palace of Westminster came to be the principal royal residence after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, and later housed the developing Parliament and law courts of England. The neighbouring Westminster Abbey became the traditional venue of the coronation of the kings of England.
The monarchy later moved to other palaces elsewhere in the city, and the law courts have since moved to the Royal Courts of Justice, close to the border of the City of London, so today "Westminster" is often used as shorthand for Parliament and the political community (including the elected Government) of the United Kingdom generally. The civil service is similarly referred to by the area it inhabits, Whitehall, where there was also once a royal palace. "Westminster" is consequently also used in reference to the Westminster System, the parliamentary model of democratic government that has evolved in the United Kingdom. The Westminster System is used with some adaptation in many other nations, particularly in the Commonwealth of Nations and other parts of the former British Empire.
The nearest mainline train stations are London Waterloo (approximately 15 minutes walk) and London Victoria (approximately 20 minutes walk). It is worth taking the tube from these two stations to arrive at Westminster.
- Westminster Tube Station is probably the most central access point by Tube. One of the capital's most modern Tube stations, having been thoroughly redesigned and rebuilt in the late 1990s with the extension of the Jubilee Line, the station architecture is an attraction in itself
- Embankment is on the north bank of the Thames. On the Northern line (1 stop north bound from Waterloo)
Most of the attractions in Westminster are arranged broadly north-south along the line of Whitehall and the adjoining Parliament Square:
- Westminster Abbey , tel +44 (0)20 7654 4900, fax +44 (0)20 7654 4894, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org; Abbey admission: Mo-Tu and Th-Fr 9.30am-3.45pm, We 9.30am-7pm, Sa 9.30am-1.45pm (extended in summer to 3.45pm), Sundays open for worship only, the Abbey closes 1 hour after last admission; Chapter House admission: daily 10.30am-4pm; Westminster Abbey Museum: daily 10.30am-4pm; Pyx Chamber: daily 10.30am-4pm; Cloisters daily 8am-6pm; admission adults £8, concessions £6 (seniors 60+, children 11-16, students with full-time student card), family ticket £18 (2 adults and 2 children under 18), children under 11 free (maximum of 2 children per paying adult) - Note that the Abbey itself charges tourists for entry -- but not worshippers. Attend a church service for free and enjoy some of the finest choral music in London from the choir. Evensong (see Abbey website) at 4PM or 5PM, depending on time of year, is an especially good bet. The Abbey is the traditional scene for the Coronation of British monarchs and the burial place of many past kings and queens, photos
- Henry VII's Ladys Chapel Described as ‘the wonder of the entire world’, this chapel at the eastern end of Westminster Abbey is a breathtakingly beautiful masterpiece of medieval architecture.Film
- St Margaret's Church , open Mo-Fr 9.30am-3.45pm, Sa 9.30am-1.45pm, Su 2pm-5pm - located right next to Westminster Abbey within Parliament Square, St Margaret's is the church of the British Parliament; more specifically, the 'parish church of the House of Commons'
- The Palace of Westminster  (including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament) - seat of the British parliament and World Heritage site. You can also visit the 'Mother of Parliaments'; when Parliament is in session (generally late September to mid-July) the only public admittance is to the public gallery in the chamber whenever the House is sitting, typically weekday afternoons only. On the way to the gallery you get a good sample of the internal architecture and decoration. For important debates, for Prime Ministers' Questions, or during tourist season, there is often a queue; however the gallery is often open well into the evening. When Parliament is not sitting, there are 75 minute guided tours, including all the important areas - book ahead or buy tickets for the same day over the road. In the evening, you can meet parliamentaries walking to a street next to the Parliament--it does happen that they don't drive away immediately.
- Downing Street - site of the London residences for the Prime Minister (No 10) and the Chancellor (No 11)
- the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum , open daily except 24-26 December, 9.30am-6pm (last admission 5pm), admission adult £10, children under 16 free, seniors £8, students £8, unwaged £5; group concessions available - a branch of the Imperial War Museum, the Cabinet War Rooms preserves the underground corridors and rooms from which Churchill and the cabinet directed the war against Hitler and the Nazis, maintained almost exactly as they were left in 1945... Newly-opened in 2004, the attached Churchill Museum is the world's first permanent museum dedicated to the life and wartime achievements of Sir Winston Churchill, recently voted the "Greatest Briton"...
- Horse Guards 
- The Banqueting House , tel +44 (0)870 751 5178, open Mo-Sa 10am-5pm, closed Sundays, Bank Holidays and 24 December - 1 January (inclusive), NB: The Banqueting House is liable to close at short notice for Government functions - please telephone to check before you travel, admission adults £4.00, students (with ID) and seniors (60+) £3.00, children 5-16 £2.60, under 5s free - designed and built in 1619-1622 by the Neo-Classical architect Inigo Jones, The Banqueting House is now all that remains of Whitehall Palace, the sovereign's principal residence from 1530-1698 when most of it was destroyed by fire. Renowned for its architecture and paintings (by Rubens, amongst others), the building is also famous for being the scene of Charles I's execution in 1649 at the end of the English Civil War.
- The Royal Mews 
- City Inn Westminster, 30 John Islip Street, ☎ +44 (0)20 7630 1000, . A central london boutique hotel in Westminster. Offers a restaurant, bar, meeting venue and event offers.
- Just across the river on the South Bank are the London Eye and the Saatchi Gallery
This page was last edited at 15:12, on 30 October 2008 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by John Dawsonix, Denis Yurkin, Tim Sandell, Niels Elgaard Larsen and Rich Daley, Wikitravel user(s) Riggwelter, Episteme, Jonboy, Pjamescowie, Nils, Huttite and Steeev and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.