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London is famous for its historic buildings, museums, shops, theatres and nightlife. So during your trip to London you won't have a single moment to be bored. There's a good reason why London attracts many tourists from all over the world every year. New attractions like the Tate Modern, the courtyard at the British Museum and the London Eye keep the city young and vital. A trip to London is full of highlights!

London's most famous districts are Kensington, Chelsea and, of course, Notting Hill and Soho. You'll find a short description of what each district has to offer below.

Kensington
Hip and trendy. It's expensive, but very pleasant to stroll through. Celebrity inhabitants of South Kensington include Elton John and Madonna. Who knows, you might even run across them at the baker.

Chelsea
Celebrated for football and shopping. This is where you'll find the King's Road: The shopping street in London, where the trendiest, most expensive and most exclusive clothing is sold. Note: Hurry past the chain stores. Nicer, sometimes even affordable shops follow.

Notting Hill
Each front door in this formerly Caribbean district is painted a different colour. It's also overflowing with the most fabulous shops. The stream of yuppies into this neighbourhood has changed certain things, but it's still one of London's liveliest and friendliest districts. Around Portobello Road, in particular, you'll find lots of lively restaurants and pubs. If you feel like Caribbean, Indian or English food, you'll certainly find it here! There's a market on Saturday, but lots of the stalls are open during the week as well.

Soho
Soho is the centre of London's nightlife. Lots of lively English pubs, movie theatres, discotheques and restaurants. It's also the centre of London's gay scene, congenially mixed with the rest of the party crowd.

You won't have enough time to do everything you want to do in London, but then you've always got an excuse to come back!

History

In 56 BC Julius Caesar invaded Britannia. In the first century, the Romans built a bridge over the River Thames and established their headquarters, the port city of Londinium, on the north bank. Thanks to its advantageous location on the Thames, the city developed into an important trading centre. In the 5th century, the Anglo-Saxons came to power.

William the Conqueror, the then Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in 1066. The current British Royal Family descends directly from him. Under Elizabeth I (1558-1603), England prospered. Art, the theatre in particular, and science flourished. She also saw to it that a basis for the colonial empire was laid. When the zealous Puritans came to power around 1642, the kingdom briefly became a republic. The Puritans banned everyday amusements like dance and theatre. The Monarchy was restored in 1660 under Charles II. This led to a revivial of all forms of art.

London has often been struck by tragedy. In 1665, 100,000 people died from the plague. The Great Fire of 1666 was another such tragedy. This fire destroyed a large part of the city. Reconstruction was carried out on a grand scale. Stately houses and magnificent squares were built.

During Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901), London was the biggest and richest city in the world, having taken over the role of financial world centre from Amsterdam. The well-to-do middle class built themselves magnificent houses. The wealth drew many poor people to the city, many of whom went to work at the port. The significant industrialisation seen around 1820 brought rapid growth with it, but also caused problems. Many of the poor lived in filthy, closely packed houses. These conditions were closely linked to disease, including numerous cholera epidemics. The sewer that was built in 1875 ensured better hygiene.

The bombardments of the Second World War caused much devastation. In the sixties London was the capital of fashion and pop music. With its population of 7 million people, it's now Europe's biggest city.