You know you're in the City of London as the street furniture changes, the colours on bollards and road signs are red, black and white and have crests emblazoned on them. Today the City of London is one of the world’s leading financial centres and is home to soaring skyscrapers, from 30 St Mary Axe (aka the Gherkin) to the Leadenhall building. The area is often called the Square Mile—it's just one square mile in area.
Despite the modern architecture, however, a walk through the City of London is like taking a walk back in time. The City of London is based on the original Roman town of Londinium, founded around AD 50. It is the oldest, most historic part of London. Situated near the Thames, the area became a bustling port. Even the street names tell a story; places such as Milk Street, Bread Street and Cloth Fair indicate what time of business was on what road.
The City has seen many tragedies, including The Great Fire of London, The Blitz and Jack the Ripper murders, and landmark moments such as the Stock Exchange being established, and London’s first post box being created.
One of its most famous residents was William Shakespeare who lived and worked in the area. He purchased a house near St Paul’s Cathedral, and staged plays at the Blackfriars Playhouse. 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare.
Shakespeare Son et Lumiere
In collaboration between Guildhall Library and Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the building Guildhall is playing host to the Shakespeare Son et Lumiere (4-5 Mar). The Dance Porch of Guildhall will be illuminated with 3D projection mapping, transforming irregular shaped objects and surfaces into a living display with extraordinary effect.
Guildhall Art Gallery
The newly renovated Guildhall Art Gallery houses works of art belonging to the city, dating from 1670 to the present day. Past exhibits have included "Visscher Redrawn," which highlighted Claes Jansz Visscher’s 1616 engraving of London.
The Barbican Centre is a haven for arts and culture—it is home to films, exhibitions, plays and dance. To commemorate Shakespeare, there is a range of events. February sees the London Symphony Orchestra perform "Play On, Shakespeare" (7 Feb) for families Shakespeare 400 (16 Feb). During the Barbican Shakespeare Weekender: Play On (5-6 Mar), the Barbican will be filled with interactive workshops, talks, installations and performances with a difference—even the food will be Shakespeare-inspired.
Globe Exhibition and Tours
What play caused a fire to start inside the original Globe Theatre? What building has London’s only thatched roof? And why did the original Globe close? These are just some of the questions that will be answered when you visit The Globe Theatre’s exhibition and yours. The Globe Theatre opened in 1997, and is a recreation of the original Globe that was created in 1599. The fascinating tour gives you in an insight into how the building was built, and you get to sit inside the open-air theatre itself.
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