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Contrary to common knowledge, London’s Big Ben is not the official name of the clock tower in the House of Parliament. It was called the Clock Tower, then was renamed to Elizabeth Tower back in 2012 in honor of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
Big Ben is the name of the massive 13-ton bell inside the clock tower. But the name has been closely associated with the clock and clock tower, so casually, tourists and locals alike refer to it as simply Big Ben.
When the old Palace of Westminster was largely destroyed by fire in October 1834, Big Ben was raised as a part of Charles Barry’s design for a new palace. Although Barry was the chief architect of the palace, he turned to Augustus Pugin for the design of the clock tower.
The clock tower stands at 315 feet (96 meters) high and it has a Gothic Revival style. The four clock dials are 180 feet (54.9 meters) above ground.
It has stood the test of time; but the clock tower still needs a bit of touch up once and again, so a four-year schedule of renovation works began in August 2017 and would end by 2021.
Even though it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, it’s interior is not open to foreign visitors. Only locals can visit via tours that are arranged through their Member of Parliament. When there are ongoing repair works, it’s closed to everyone.
Some fun facts about Big Ben:
Big Ben is famous for its reliability. Even with bombs deployed during WWII and the majority of the buildings nearby got destroyed, Big Ben continued to operate.
Big Ben's timekeeping is strictly regulated by a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum. The coins are there to adjust the time of the clock face.
When parliament is in session, a special light on top of the clock face is lit.
Big Ben is synonymous with London as Statue of Liberty is to New York. You cannot imagine one without the other. It is a feat of engineering that has stood the test of time.
Launched on: May 4, 2020