In the heart of London, a few meters from the Parliament, is one of the most famous religious buildings in the capital, Westminster Abbey, a place of worship and eternal rest for many famous people.
Over the centuries, the abbey has undergone many changes and has seen 16 royal weddings and 38 coronations of monarchs. Today this building, which has witnessed major events in British history, is an obligatory stop on your trip to London.
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Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, the monument is a Gothic masterpiece, a focal point of the British monarchy that hosts more than a million foreign visitors a year.
In this post you will find all the information you need on how to visit Westminster Abbey.
Guide for visiting the abbey
Westminster Abbey is located opposite the Houses of Parliament, and is one of the buildings in London, showing great reminiscences of French cathedrals, such as those of Reims and Amiens.
History of the Abbey
The Benedictine monks founded their monastery on the site of the present abbey in 960. Then, in 1040, King Edward built his royal palace next to the monastery and enlarged it to transform it into a church in honor of the apostle St. Peter.
After the death of King Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror took advantage of a succession crisis to seize the crown and was crowned King of England on 25 December 1066 in Westminster Abbey. Since then, almost all the monarchs have been crowned in this abbey.
It was in the XNUMXth century that Henry III began construction of the building that we can currently see. Following the king's tastes, the architect in charge of its construction built the cathedral according to the guidelines of the French Gothic style. Over the centuries, however, Westminster Abbey has also acquired characteristics of the English Gothic style.
This treasure of medieval art saw great events in British history such as the marriage of Princess Elizabeth, not yet queen, to Prince Philip in 1947 and her coronation a few years later, in 1953.
Since its construction, the Abbey has hosted 17 royal weddings and 38 coronations.
In addition, the Abbey is the eternal resting place of over 3300 famous people. The north transept is a pantheon of great statesmen, while the south transept houses the poets' corner. Princess Diana's funeral also took place in Westminster (1997).
What to see in Westminster Abbey
Choir and main altar
On the walk through Westminster Abbey, the first thing you can see is the choir and the high altar.
The first occupies the center of the central nave of the cathedral, which at 31 meters is the highest in England.
In the center of the Abbey, in front of the great altar, is the coronation chair, one of the most precious and famous furniture in the world. It is the original chair where all English kings and queens have been crowned since the XNUMXth century.
Cappella Lady Chapel
Continuing, we visit the chapels on the sides and behind the main altar. The most important, without a doubt, is the Lady Chapel, also known as the chapel of Henry VII.
It is a large hall of enormous architectural beauty, with an imposing fan-vaulted ceiling from 1512. Just behind the high altar is the tomb of Eduardo the Confessor, which is surrounded by the tombs of five kings and three queens.
In this room are the tombs and monuments of great writers such as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson and Oscar Wilde. Other notable people buried in other areas of the abbey are Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, David Livingstone or the late Stephen Hawking.
The abbey has four splendid cloisters built between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries that connect the church with the rest of the rooms.
It is a beautiful octagonal room, which was built in the mid-1050th century during the reign of Henry III. You will be impressed by the double doors of the Chapter Hall, which dates back to XNUMX and is considered the oldest in England, with a splendid geometric decoration in the Gothic style, the design of the central pillar that extends with eight ribs towards the vaulted ceiling, the stained glass windows very high, the medieval paintings that decorate the walls.
You can see a mosaic of the Last Supper, four statues of the apostles, the marble floor from 1268 and the chapel of San Eduardo.
More than 900 years old, the Collage Garden is the oldest park in England, accessible through the cloisters.
How to get to Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey is located in the heart of London, in the borough of Westminster. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are nearby.
You can easily reach by public transport in the city:
- Subway: the nearest stations are Westminster (Jubilee, District and Circle lines) and Jame's Park (District and Circle lines) .The best way to reach Westminster Abbey in London is with the yellow (Circle), green (District ) or gray (Jubilee). Get off at the Westminster stop, located a 5-minute walk from the abbey entrance.
- Train: the best options are London Victoria and London Waterloo.
- Bus: you can take lines 3, 11, 12, 24, 29, 53, 70, 77, 77a, 88, 109, 148, 159, 170 or 211 of the local bus.
- Car: The abbey has no car park, but there is a public car park on Great College Street, Q-Park Westminster.
Westminster Abbey opening hours
Times will depend on what is visited in Westminster Abbey. They are not always the same, so it is recommended that you log into their website and check the times for the day of your visit.
Westminster Abbey is open:
From Monday - Friday: from 9:30 - 12:00 and from 13:00 - 15:30
Saturday: from 9:00 - 13:00 and until 17:00 from May to August
Opening hours may vary based on events. The abbey It is closed to the public Monday to Friday from 12:00 to 13:00 and on Sundays, due to Sunday vespers.
Inside the abbey there are areas with specific visiting hours:
- the opening hours of the chapter house and the museum of Westmister Abbey are from 10:00 to 16:30 (closed on Sundays).
- Cloisters: every day from 8:00 to 18:00
Note that every Wednesday afternoon there is a special visit from 16:30 to 19:00 (last admission one hour earlier), with half price admission.
Westminster Abbey Price
The price of Westminster Abbey is:
- Adults - £ 20 if you buy online and £ 22 if you buy a ticket at the abbey
- Students and over 60s - £ 17
- Children (between 6 and 16) at £ 9
- Children under 6 years: free admission
There are two family passes:
- 2 adults and 1 child - £ 40
- 2 adults and 2 children - £ 45
All tickets include a free audio guide. Please note that this attraction is included in the London Pass.Buy your Westminster Abbey ticket here
Being one of the most important and most touristic monuments in London, the visit inside Westminster Abbey will be done surrounded by many people.
We warn you that if you go during the high tourist season, you should not be surprised by the long line you have to do to enter the cathedral, which you can avoid by purchasing skip-the-line tickets in advance.
Once inside you have to go to the counter where they will provide you with the audio guide which will be very useful during the visit and whose service is already included in the ticket price.
Do not forget to take the brochure with the plan of the cathedral, where you will find information on the route to take and the numbers to select in the audio guide in the different sectors.
Keep in mind that it is not allowed to take photos or videos inside the cathedral, you can only do it in the Cloisters.
The floor is uneven, so comfortable shoes are recommended.
The visit can be quite long if you want to see everything in detail. It is best to go early and not close to closing time.
Admission is free for disabled people and their carers, but not all of the abbey is accessible.
There are also guided tours for blind or visually impaired people but they must be booked.Buy your Westminster Abbey ticket here
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