Think you know London? Some facts that might surprise you…

As with many cities, there is far more to the British capital than meets the eye. Check out these little known facts about London:

  • A culturally diverse and multi-ethnic city, London houses people speaking over 300 different languages.
  • About 25% of all people currently living in London were born abroad.
  • About sixteen percent of the UK’s restaurants are located in London, and there are more Michelin-rated restaurants in London than in any other city except for Paris.
  • The city currently known as London has gone through a variety of names during its history. At the time of the Roman Invasion, it was called Londinium. In Saxon times, it became known as Lundenwic. And during the reign of Alfred the Great, the city was known as Lundenburg.
  • What is “Big Ben”? Most people think that it’s the name of the world famous clock, or perhaps the tower that houses it. Wrong! The name actually refers to the thirteen ton bell, while the tower is known as St. Stephen’s Tower.
  • The Queen’s official residence, Buckingham Palace, was built in 1702… on the site of an infamous brothel!
  • In 1870, due to the potato famines in Ireland, there were more Irish living in London than there were in Dublin. (At the time, there were also more Catholics living in London than there were in Rome.)
  • The Great Fire of London in 1666 caused extensive damage across the city and raged for days, causing parts of London to be rebuilt. However, only around eight lives were lost in the catastrophe.
  • The Thames is the oldest place name in Britain, and the river is a combination of four other rivers.
  • There are over 19,000 listed buildings in the British capital.
  • Gaslight was introduced in London in 1807; prior to this, torchlight was used.
  • Her Majesty the Queen is not allowed to enter the House of Commons (because she is not a commoner).
  • Rumour has it that Windsor Castle is haunted by a variety of ghosts, including King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, Mad King George, and Charles I.
  • London’s underground system was the first to be built in the world, and it is one of the largest. Nowadays, however, it is one of the most unreliable –and most expensive.
  • Each week, the 409 escalators in the London underground cover a formidable distance: The equivalent of several trips around the world!

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