Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

Book tickets for summer tours

Overlooking the Thames, the Houses of Parliament are, arguably, the city's most famous and photogenic sight, with the Clock Tower -- which everyone calls Big Ben -- keeping watch on the corner and across Parliament Square.

The vista is especially dramatic at night when the storybook spires, pinnacles, and towers of the great building are floodlighted green and gold.

Big Ben is not the name of the famous London Clock as many believe, it is, in fact the name of the 13-ton bell (named after a bureaucrat) which can be found inside the clock.

The bell was named after bureaucrat Sir Benjamin Hall. The Bell can be found in St. Stephen's Tower which is at the northern end of the Houses of Parliament. The bell itself is not very old compared to the houses of Parliament. When Parliament is in session after dark a light shines from the top of St. Stephen's Tower.

The clock is huge, the tower is a mere 320 feet high with the clock faces being 23 feet wide. The minute hands are 14 feet long and cover the distance of an average man every 5 minutes. The bell was completed in 1859 and at the time it was the largest bell in the United Kingdom.

The Visitors' Galleries of the House of Commons afford a view of the best free show in London, staged in the world's most renowned ego chamber. To apply for the special "line of route" tour (open only to overseas visitors and worth taking), write to the Parliamentary Education Unit (House of Commons Information Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 2TT) at least a month in advance of your visit.

Opening Hours
Commons Mon.-Thurs. 2:30-10, Fri. 9:30-3 (although not every Fri.);
Lords Mon.-Thurs. 2:30-10;
Lord Chancellor's Residence Tues. and Thurs. 10:30-12.
Closed Easter wk, July-Oct., and 3 wks at Christmas.

Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
Parliament Square

Location Map

+44 (0)20 7219 3000 or +44 (0)20 7219 4272

Nearest Tube / Rail Station