Every tourist who gets on the plane to visit London for the first time knows: there are some places that must necessarily appear in the list of things to do once you arrive in the English capital. Buckingham Palace , Hyde Park, Westminster, London Bridge and the most important museums in London are a practically obligatory stage for anyone wishing to understand what the city has to offer, what is the culture of Great Britain and what architectural style reigns over the banks of the Thames.
Yet the capital of the Channel can not be reduced only to this. For those who know how to look carefully, in fact, London can offer much more varied and unexpected travel routes, perfect for travelers who do not want to follow the current. To discover real jewels, sometimes you need to get away from the center, while others just point the view while walking through the city’s busiest streets. Here then are eight proposals to discover a less touristy but equally enchanting London.
1. Leighton House Museum
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If the period in which Queen Victoria reigned was, for Great Britain, one of the most serene and productive of all time, even from an artistic and architectural point of view, the nineteenth century gave priceless wonders to London and to all of England. One of the least known places, but one that can not fail to impress deeply, is the house-museum where the artist Lord Frederic Leighton lived , located in the prestigious district of Kensington. It is an imposing and majestic dwelling, in which the English noble housed the leading intellectual and cultural personalities of Victorian society, but which at times opened the doors even to ordinary people – when the aristocrat was not at home – to show the world all its magnificence.
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Today’s visitors particularly appreciate the golden Arabic Hall – inspired by the Arab-Norman palace of Zisa , in the province of Palermo -, which was decorated with 600 different Damascan majolica tiles and which is full of mosaics, gold and precious carpets, as well as hosting at its center a fountain. In other rooms tourists can also admire works by Tintoretto, finely worked columns and various statues. Finally, there is a room entirely dedicated to silk.
2. The Walthamstow district
Not only famous museums, surprising botanical gardens or places of worship that are a masterpiece of architecture: the beauty of London is the possibility of getting lost in entire neighborhoods and discovering the most artistic and sensitive soul of the metropolis. Among the boroughs that have changed their face in recent decades and have managed to show the best of them is Walthamstow, located in the north-east of the city and easily accessible with the Victoria Line of the Tube. Among shopping people and parents who bring children to school, you can come across impressive graffiti, made by different artists over the years in many of the walls available in the neighborhood. Every year in the first two weeks of June, then, Walthamstow hosts the E17 Art Trail(E17 is the postal code of the area), a real touring tour among the treasures of the neighborhood. Finally, for this occasion, several inhabitants choose to open their doors and host the works of art of local artists at home, allowing access to visitors too. A sort of Montmatre in British land.
3. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens
The Kew botanical gardens will change their minds to those who believe they can only identify London with hard work and pubs. The gardens founded by Princess Augsburg of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg in the eighteenth century – now UNESCO heritage – are a real oasis for those who love nature. The visit time of the whole complex is quite long, better not to take too many commitments to get lost among the rare plants that it contains in itself.
Inside there are currently about forty buildings, including many greenhouses (7 in all) with plants from all over the world: Africa, the Indian Ocean, America and Asia. In addition to the beauty of the flora, in any case, visitors are also in front of a Japanese pagoda, a walk in the void at 18 meters (the so-called Treetop Walkway), the “Marianne North Gallery” gallery (with more than 800 paintings ) and finally an innumerable series of statues and fountains, which make Kew Gardens a sort of paradise on Earth.