The Tower of London, officially called Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress and often referred to as Tower Hill, is a medieval castle, which in the past was home to English monarchs. It is located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, on the north bank of the River Thames. The fortress was built at the beginning of the 11th century by William the Conqueror. Even though it was intended as a residence for British monarchs, since the 14th century and the times of James I, no one from the royal family has resided in the castle.
The White Tower is the main tower adjoining the fortification. Throughout centuries it served different purposes. As the oldest part of the building, it constituted a basis for the construction of the other parts of the castle. Inside the tower, there is a chapel of San Juan. Another important tower is Tower Wakefield, erected around 1220, and named so to commemorate the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. During the siege of the castle, the tower functioned as one of the most strategic points of the fortification, and that is why Henry III resided there for fear of his life. Until the 19th century, the tower housed the Crown Jewels - the royal regalia, including jewels, plate, as well as symbols of royalty such as the crown, sceptre, and sword.
Around the main complex of the Tower of London there are several smaller towers as well as numerous indoor and outdoor patios, one of which is home to the six ravens known from one of the oldest British legends. According to the legend, the day the six crows of the Tower of London die or fly away, the Crown will fall together with the whole Britain. This is one of the reasons why since ancient times the tower has been treated with extra care. During the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Tower was among a few buildings that were not destroyed by the flames. Another place worth visiting in the Tower of London is the Royal Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, the parish of the Tower and a burial place of some of the most famous British people killed in the castle, including Anne Boleyn. The Tower of London also functioned as a prison and was a place where many executions took place, mostly in the Tower Hill, to the north of the castle. Yet another attraction of the Tower of London is are the Beefeaters, the ceremonial guards of the Tower of London, who in the past were responsible for looking after the prisoners of the Tower and protecting the British crown jewels. Today, however, they act as tour guides.
In 1988, the Tower of London was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.