The Houses of Parliament consist of the House of Commons, the lower house where the elected members of parliament meet and the House of Lords, the upper house where the Lords meet. Both houses are contained within the Palace of Westminster which lies on the north bank of the River Thames, in central London. The palace contains 1100 rooms and 100 staircases over three floors. The principal floor containing the major rooms.
The palace was rebuilt in the middle of 1016 and was rebuilt by architect Sir Charles Barry assisted by Augustus Pugin in 1870.
The palace is made up of three main towers:
The Victoria Tower which is located at the south of the palace, and beside it is the Octagonal Central Tower. At the north of the palace is the Elizabeth Tower a famous point of attraction to tourists because it houses Big Ben. Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock. This is the second largest tower in the palace standing 102m tall and flies the union flag, 15m tall, when the parliament is sitting.
The clock was started in 1859 on the 31st of May and the bell was struck for the first time on 7 September 1859. Big Ben chimes every 15 minutes and can be heard up to 5 miles away. The hour hand of the clock is 2.7m long and the minute hand is 4.3m long. At the base of the clock has an inscription in Latin DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM which means Oh Lord, keep the Queen safe Our Queen Victoria the First.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the chimes of the Big Ben are on broadcast to mark Remembrance Day. The clock housing Big Ben is under repair for the next four years and will not function until 2021. Big Ben chimes were stopped on the 21st of August 2017.
The oldest part of the palace is Westminster Hall. Built around 1097. Westminster Hall is the oldest ceremonial hall in England and there was a time it was the largest hall in Europe.
Tickets to visit can be booked online or during the day from the ticket office. The ticket office is located in front of Portcullis House on Victoria Embankment. The palace is open is to visitors all year round, Monday to Saturday. There is a choice of tours:
Audio Guided Tours
Tours of Parliament
Pets are not allowed in the palace. Mobile phones and cameras are not allowed in the gallery. There is no actual dress code but you are advised to wear something not offensive. Visitors entry point to the palace is located at 3 St. Margarets Street Church. Be sure to find more exciting facts as you make a tour.
There is a shop selling a wide variety of gifts, books and themed items. The café serves a selection of hot and cold meals, snacks and drinks. There are facilities for the disabled and the site is fully accessible.