One of the easiest questions that seems to consistently crop up on quiz shows in the likes of Spain is to “name the city” of which Big Ben resides (an image of Big Ben is typically shown to the quiz contestants). Blockbuster films that are set in London often slip in a shot of Big Ben just to let the viewer know which city they are in.
Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Statue of Liberty, Piza has the Leaning Tower and London has Big Ben. Speaking of leaning towers, Big Ben is leaning enough to be noticed by the naked eye and rather worryingly, this lean is becoming more pronounced with every passing year.
A domineering yet formidable presence
Gothic, gold, gilded and marvellous, Londoners are justifiably proud of their most iconic symbol, leans and all. With chiming clocks on all four of its faces and reaching lofty heights of 315 feet, you cannot miss the domineering presence of Big Ben.
Big Ben has not been without its problems, though most of which have been resolved before too long. One of the most prolonged periods of restoration work took place between 1976 and 1977 when the clock was out of action for 26 days. Instead of the mighty gongs preceding the national television news viewers had to put up with some very lame pips.
154 years old
Big Ben celebrated its 150th birthday in 2009. In September last year the clock tower was renamed “The Elizabeth Tower” in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. It does not really matter what MPs in the House of Commons waste time and tax payers’ money on, Big Ben is Big Ben to people worldwide and no re-naming motion will ever alter that fact.
If you ask a knowledgeable Japanese tourist the way to Big Ben you are almost certain to be pointed in the right direction. If you ask where The Elizabeth Tower is you might have a long wait before somebody actually knows what you’re talking about.
It might not be the tallest clock tower in the world but you’d be hard pushed to argue a more recognisable and iconic one than our very own Big Ben.