The City of London, which is also known as the Square Mile, is the financial district of London. It is the ancient core from which the rest of London developed.
One of the reasons the Square Mile is unique, is the number of people who live, work and visit. In just 1.12 square miles, the City of London counts around 8,000 residents, 513,000 daily commuters and 10m annual visitors.
The City of London boundaries stretch from Temple to the Tower of London, on the River Thames including, from East to East Chancery Lane and Liverpool Street.
If you are stopping by the City of London for a day out. Then here are 5 free places to visit and/or combine with paying attractions, to get the most out of your visit.
First on the list is Guildhall, home to the City of London Corporation. The Corporation is responsible for promoting and looking after the City of London. They have their own government (the oldest in the country, with origins pre-dating Parliament), their own Lord Mayor and independent police force. The Great Hall holds many events but sometimes it is open to the public for a tour.
However, just as equally impressive, is standing outside in Guildhall Yard and admiring the buildings that surround you. With the Great Hall and its magnificent dance porch in front of you, you have the Art Gallery to your right, the Aldermans Court to your left and St Lawrence Jewry Church behind you, with an original blue Police phone box too.
The Great Hall is the City’s only surviving secular medieval building and dates from 1411. With 27m high ceilings and a cathedral-like ambience, the historic building is situated on top of London’s largest medieval crypts.
Under your feet is an old roman amphitheatre, discovered during excavation works in 1988. It is marked in the Yard with dark stones that form an circle-ish shape. You can access the amphitheatre from the Art Gallery (currently closed for maintenance but due to re-open April 2022).
2. Museum Of London
The museum documents London’s past since prehistory to modern times. It shows the development of the city as well as London society through temporary exhibitions, workshops, festivals and more. Museum of London’s main site at London Wall will close as a visitor attraction in December 2022 in preparation for its relocation to Smithfield General Market.
You can walk from Guildhall through the Barbican. with its Brutalist architecture, to the museum.
3. St Paul’s Cathedral
You can walk the gardens around the Cathedral and when you’ve finished you can do a bit of shopping or grab a drink and bite to eat in Cheapside or cross oveer the Millenium Bridge to the other side of the river, know as the Southbank. Here you’ll find lots of other attractions like Tate Bankside, Shakespears Round House and the Thames river boats.
4. Mansion House
Mansion House is the home of the Lord Mayor of London. Until the mid-18th century, Lord Mayors used their own houses or livery halls for their work. It was after the Great Fire of London in 1066 that the idea came about, of creating a permanent residence.
The first stone was laid in 1739 and the house completed in 1758. The first Lord Mayor to take up residence was Sir Crispin Gascoigne.
5. Leadenhall Market
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, then a trip to Leadenhall Market is a must. With its beautiful architecture that dates back to 1881. It was used in the Philosophers Stone film for scenes leading to the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley. You can feel the magic! Leadenhall was originally a meat, poultry and game market and dates back to the 14th centaury. Now, there are lots of boutiques, shops, restaurants and bars for you to browse or visit.
The places listed above are in no particular route order but to help you, if I were planning my route, it would be: Leadenhall Market, Mansion House, Guildhall, Museum of London and finishing at St Pauls so I could then continue on from there over the Millennium Bridge.