Officially known as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, the Tower of London is an iconic castle that lies on the northern bank of the River Thames. It was founded in the 11th century as part of the Norman Conquest of England and built by William the Conqueror. It served as both a royal residence and a prison for much of its existence, as well as being home to the Royal Mint, a treasury and the Crown Jewels of England.
Surrounded by defensive walls and a moat, the Tower of London consists of several buildings that were constructed under successive 12th and 13th-century Kings, including Richard I, Henry III and Edward I. It’s played a prominent role in English history in maintaining control over the country, with the White Tower being one of the largest keeps in the Christian world. It was in the 16th and 17th centuries that its reputation as a prison was established, with numerous high-profile prisoners and executions taking place here.
Consisting of more than 23,000 gemstones, the Crown Jewels are one of the most famous attractions for visitors to the Tower of London and include the 800-year-old Coronation Spoon, St. Edward's Crown and the Imperial State Crown. The complex is also famed for its ghostly appearances, including that of Anne Boleyn who was beheaded in 1536 for treason against Henry VIII. Her ghost is said to walk the White Tower with her head tucked under her arm.