What is Big Ben? And what’s the Elizabeth Tower?Big Ben is the name of the largest bell inside the Elizabeth Tower, although many people often use the name to refer to the whole clock tower. The clock tower was built in 1859, and was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking clock in the world, quickly becoming an icon of London and the UK in general. The tower is home to 5 bells, four quarter bells which strike every 15 minutes and Big Ben, which chimes the hour.
Woher kommt der Name Big Ben?The name is a bit of a mystery, even today. While it’s officially called the Great Bell, It’s generally accepted that it took its nickname from Sir Benjamin Hall, whose name is inscribed on the bell and who was the Commissioner for Works who oversaw its installation in the tower. There’s also an urban legend that the bell was named after Benjamin Caunt, a 19th-century bare-knuckle boxer from Nottinghamshire. He was given the nickname of Big Ben after becoming the heavyweight champion of England in 1841.
Can we go inside to see the bells?Prior to the renovation work (which is expected to last until late 2020 or early 2021), it was possible for UK residents to book a tour of the Elizabeth Tower to visit Big Ben. They were able to book through either their local Member of Parliament or a member of the House of Lords, but these tours weren’t available for overseas visitors. The tours have been suspended for the duration of the renovation works but should resume once the work has been completed. The works will also add an elevator and a restroom, which will potentially make the tour more accessible to visitors.
Why do I recognize the Elizabeth Tower?You’ll probably recognize the Elizabeth Tower the moment you see it because it’s been in pretty much every single movie and TV show set in London! From episodes of Doctor Who, and The Simpsons, to movies as diverse as 28 Days Later, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, V for Vendetta, and The 39 Steps, it’s unlikely that you’ve never seen the familiar image of the Elizabeth Tower. It’s also the focal point of London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, which are broadcast around the world, with Big Ben ringing out as fireworks explode in the background.