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"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life". This quotation from the English poet Samuel Johnson might be an adequate description of the city of London. Cosmopolitan, multicultural, always one step ahead of the latest fashions and trends, London has always been considered one of the most fascinating and intriguing cities of the world.
The Romans were so impressed with the strategic location of the area, particularly the majestic river Thames and its proximity to the sea, that in 43 A.D. they laid the foundations for what would become the city of London. In the second century the city was one of the largest in Europe, with more than 60 thousand inhabitants. Today, London is home to more than 14 million people and is the most populous city in the European Union, but Londoners can boast of even more prestigious accolades: they have the oldest underground railway network (The Tube), the highest number of international visitors along with five international airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City Airport) making it the largest hub of global air traffic.
33 districts, each different from the other
Visiting London means taking the time to explore the 33 districts (London boroughs) that make up the urban area, from the two most central, the City of London and the City of Westminster: these areas are home to the political and royal institutions of Britain and to the majority of London's tourist attractions. Simply listing the 4UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the heart of the city is enough to justify a visit to London: Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Saint Margaret's Church and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. Visitors will find it hard to resist the charm of the British crown with British flags flying everywhere, kitsch souvenirs of the Royal family, not to mention the Royal residences and opulent palaces, many of which are open to the public and are always crowded with visitors. Start with the Royal residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace, move on to St. James's Palace, Royal residence until 1837 and finish at Windsor Castle in the English county of Berkshire, 34 km from London's Charing Cross station; this is still one of the British Royal family's favorite summer residences, together with Holyrood Palace in Scotland. London is a city with a strong devotion and commitment to multiculturalism, where foreigners are not only welcome but have become an integral part of the socio-economic fabric of the city: to the extent that, according to the 2011 census, almost 37% of the resident population of the Greater London appear to have been born outside the United Kingdom.
Between History and Innovation
The beauty and charm of this great metropolis is in its search for the perfect balance between history and modernity. The historical district of the City is a symbol of this blend of tradition and progress: the only borough with its own independent policing body, Scotland Yard, it is home to the ancient St Paul's Cathedral and has also welcomed The Shard, a futuristic and ultra-modern building designed by Renzo Piano. This is the tallest skyscraper in the European Union with 87 floors spanning a height of 310 meters.
The greatness of London is also reflected in the passion that its inhabitants have for sports such as the beloved game discussed in all English pubs: football, which here in London, as in the rest of the United Kingdom, is taken very seriously. The city is home to 14 teams, 6 of which are competing in the prestigious Premier League, the top division of the English football league. Each team has their own specific sports ground. But there is also rugby (with 4 teams playing in the English Premiership) and tennis, with the prestigious Wimbledon Championships: one of the most important and challenging Grand Slam tournaments, unique in that it takes place on grass courts.
It is impossible to summarize the beauty and tradition of this city in just a few lines. We end in the same way as we began: when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.
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