You have no idea how long I’ve been avoiding writing this blog post. I’ve been telling myself to write a City of London guide for years, but there’s a problem: it’s intimidating. The historic heart of London has so many layers and secrets that I always feel like it’s too big to tackle. But that’s changing today.
City of London Guide
Why? I’ve been really busy lately, and for some reason the busier I get the more productive I become. It’s strange, but I’m glad it’s made me rise to the challenge. So here’s my take on the City. I hope you enjoy it.
I first learned about this London neighborhood when I lived in San Francisco. I kept reading articles in The Economist that talked about the City of London, and I always wondered why the magazine wrote such a redundant phrase. Obviously London is a city, so why say it every time?
Then it occurred to me that maybe the phrase “City of London” referred to a specific part of London. I looked it up and found it was true. The City is the oldest part of London, dating all the way back to Roman times. Also called the Square Mile, the neighborhood is actually a city within a city. It has its own mayor and everything.
History and administration aside, the City is one of the most fascinating parts of London. Not only is it home to major landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral, but also a tangle of narrow alleys and lanes that are always rewarding to wander down.
It’s one of the only parts of London where sections of Roman wall sit side-by-side with the world’s newest skyscrapers. It’s home to the Gherkin—arguably London’s most beloved modern building—and the Barbican—definitely its most reviled. These layers and contrasts are what first lured me to the City, and they’re what keep drawing me back.
My favorite thing to do when I’m in the neighborhood is get lost. I duck down the alleys off Fleet Street, into courtyards like Inner Temple, and through covered markets like Leadenhall.
I wander past the Bank of England, into the Royal Exchange, and around Smithfield. Because every time I lose myself in the City I discover so much more to love about it.
And maybe that’s the real reason I’ve held off on writing a City of London guide for so long. I’m always afraid the best discovery will be my next one. But that’s exactly why it’s worth blogging about. I hope that with this as a starting point, you’ll be able to uncover your own favorite secrets of the City.
What places would you include in a City of London guide?