The 1,000-year-old complex has served as a royal residence, prison, armory, mint, zoo and observatory. It is also the repository for the royal jewels. A moving walkway takes visitors past the royal jewelry, including the Imperial Crown of India with 6,000 diamonds. It was worn just once, by King George V in 1911.

It's hard to ignore the seven well-cared-for ravens that live at the Tower of London. A legend says the tower will collapse if the birds ever depart.

We explored Borough Market on the south side of the River Thames and walked along the pretty Regent's Canal that cuts across northern London. The canal is filled with narrow-beamed houseboats.

The 4.5-acre market filled with more than 130 vendors and stalls is one of the largest in London, and has become a full-blown tourist attraction by itself. It dates to 1014, perhaps earlier. For information,

The Thames provides a great way to see the city. So, too, does the London Eye, an oversized Ferris wheel that reaches heights of 443 feet. It is one of the biggest London attractions. Each glass-sided car holds 25 people.

Near Tower Bridge, look out for a new pyramid-shaped glass skyscraper: It's the Shard, Europe's tallest building at 1,016 feet.

We even watched England's national soccer team play on television in a London pub. That was heaven for soccer fans like my family.

Keep an eye out for blue circles that identify famous people who lived in specific London buildings. It's a fun way to identify them. London has 17,000 protected buildings.

For London tourist information, check out


Bob Downing: