The City of Westminster, not to be confused with the borough of Westminster in which it stands, is one of London’s original two cities – the other is the City of London, now the financial district. In the 1040s, King Edward the Confessor, decided to build a royal palace for himself, close to a monastery by the Thames, and so the site gradually became the seat of power. The Cities of Westminster and London didn’t blend until the 16th century, when houses were built between them. Today, Westminster is still a power base: home to the prime minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Houses of Parliament, government headquarters, as well as Westminster Abbey. All these places of pomp and pageantry, the government departments and thousands of civil servants’ offices, takes up a lot of land so you don’t find so many of the shops, cafés, bars, galleries that make up the rest of London’s varied streetscape, but what’s there is a concentrated cluster of the capital’s most popular places to visit. That rich mix means Westminster is always thronged with tourist crowds, on top of people going about their everyday business. But if you like tradition, history and must-see sights, as well as some sites overlooked even by Londoners, set aside some time for SW1.
Recommendations in Westminster
Other neighbourhoods in London
Restaurants and cafés from around the world
Bars and pubs from around the world
Things to do from around the world
Shops and markets from around the world
Hotels and resorts from around the world