The Tower of London, one of the most famous historic castles in Britain, is situated on the north bank of the river Thames in central London. It was built at the end of 1066. Throughout its history it served as a royal residence, prison, and royal armoury1. Nowadays it is a museum where tourists can, among other things, see the crown jewels.
Here are some interesting facts about the Tower of London you might not know:
• The full name of the Tower is Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, The Tower of London.
• The British say that if the ravens2 ever leave the Tower, the Kingdom will fall. At least six ravens are kept there at all time, for superstitious reasons3. Each raven has a wing clipped4 to make sure they don’t fly too far from home.
• Twenty-two executions5 took place within the Tower of London. The last person to be executed there was a German spy6, Josef Jakobs in August 1941.
• During WWII, the Tower was used as a prisoner of war camp. Rudolf Hess, Deputy Chancellor of Nazi Germany, was imprisoned in the Tower after he attempted to parachute into Scotland.
• There are over 23,500 jewels theretoday. The actual price of the crown jewels themselves is over £20 billion (over €25 billion).• The Great Bell was first struck on September 7, 1859.
• Someone somewhere has a spare key. In November 2012, the key to the internal lock of the Tower was stolen. The lock was immediately replaced.
• The Tower also housed what was known as the ‘Royal Menagerie7’, the royal collection of exotic animals. The first animals to arrive were lions, an elephant and a polar bear, which would hunt for fish in the Thames on a lead8. Later came tigers, kangaroos and ostriches9.
• Several ghosts are said to haunt10 the Tower, including those of Anne Boleyn (the second wife of King Henry VIII), Henry VI, Margaret Pole, the Princes in the Tower – and a grizzly bear!
• The Tower is still officially a royal residence of Her Majesty the Queen.
• The Tower is designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. There are 911 World Heritage Sites worldwide. The Tower is one of the very few intact medieval buildings.
Vocabulary:1 [a:m∂ri] muničný sklad, zbrojnica – muniční sklad, zbrojnice; 2 krkavec, nesprávne havran – krkavec, nesprávně havran, (havran – rook); 3 z dôvodov poverčivosti – z důvodů pověrčivosti; 4 pristrihnutý – přistřihnutý; 5 poprava; 6 špion; 7 [minædž∂ri] zverinec – zvěřinec; 8 vôdzka – vodítko; 9 [o:stridžis] pštrosi; 10 [ho:nt] strašiť – strašit