When I left London for Toronto earlier this year, without meaning to, my life become a series of viewing the cityscape from various buildings. I’ve already mentioned the Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral but within a period of a few weeks, I saw many more.
Another one of these, was Monument.
The Monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of London (built in 1677 over 6 years very near to where the fire itself began). It is 61 metres tall, which I believe is the same distance between the monument itself and Pudding Lane, where the fire started. History lesson over, let’s talk practicalities.
For a long time I didn’t even realise you could go inside it because it’s a tall, thin building that in all honesty doesn’t look like you should be able to. Once inside, it is apparent that really, you only just can; the building isn’t wide enough for a lift, just a very long, spiral staircase that wraps around the inside of the building.
There are 311 steps and in truth, it is a bit of a trial. The way up is hard work on your legs but the way down I found hard work for my brain – it felt like I was in hell (or an episode of The Good Place) on a never ending staircase. Wearing heels probably wasn’t my best shout either, especially considering I very rarely do and I end up a bit of a clumsy duckling in them even on flat pavement.
Once at the top it is pretty cool, though we were pretty fortunate in that there were only ever two other people up there, at the same time as us. Any more than that and I can’t imagine it would have been as fun. The mesh already makes it feel as though you’re in a small bird cage about to get attacked by dinosaurs (little Jurassic Park ref there), so I doubt being crammed in with a bunch of other people would make that a more pleasant experience.
It’s pretty cheap at only £9.80 to go up or for an extra £2.20, with that you can also buy a ticket to go inside/across a key part of the London Skyline – Tower Bridge (the ticket lasts for a week, so you don’t have to go up one straight after the other, although we did), so if you’re looking for inexpensive things to do in London, I think this is good value for money. Heads up by the way – at Monument you can only pay in cash.
Now, I remember going up Tower Bridge when I was a kid with my mum on a day trip up to London. In my head, it was shiny and exciting inside and quite scary when you’re walking across it… As an adult, not so much. In fact, it’s quite shabby inside and not even East London shabby chic, just kind of down and out. If anything, it was comparable to walking around inside an old British secondary school that had some budget cuts.
It’s still an enjoyable experience; all I could think of the entire time I was in there, was how there were likely hundreds of people looking at the bridge while I was inside it and actually, from the inside it doesn’t feel that big, which makes it pretty amazing that it has so many eyes on it. It’s one of the most famous landmarks within London (with it’s own very impressive but much longer to explain history than Monument) and I was just wandering around inside it.
I’m going to be mentioning some other places in London where you can get a good birds eye view and I’m intending on ranking them all in one post together, in case you’re deciding which one to go up but (spoiler alert, if you haven’t already realised by the tone in this blog), I probably wouldn’t recommend either of the aforementioned over the other places. If I was forced to suggest one to you over the other, I would go with Monument – at least it feels a bit more like an experience. Tower Bridge feels like it needs a lot of work doing to it, if anything just to make you feel less bad for the workers inside it who are obviously completely sick of the sight of the dreary walls they see day in, day out. I mean maybe that’s a reason to go, maybe they can finally fund a new coat of paint.
Also, you can stand on Tower Bridge (at street level) and have your picture taken, which to be honest will look a lot better in photos than the dreary inside.