Theatre and Culture in the Capital London
Those who have admired the abundance of historical and modern well worth seeing buildings of London, relaxed in the parks or saw some of the interesting museums will also want to get introduced to the cultural scene of the city. The whole range offered can surely not be handled within one touristical side trip, but here, some of these offers are representatively mentioned.
Royal Albert Hall
Right in front of the Kensington Garden and beside the Hyde Park there is the apparently most famous concert hall of London located, the Royal Albert Hall. Prince Consort Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, husband of Queen Victoria, suggested the building of this hall. It was built up to the year 1871, the year of its inauguration, an elliptic building that embosses by its shape and appearance.
But its acoustic was simply bad, a thing that is very harmful for a concert hall. In the course of the time it had been amended so that the top-class concerts that take place here are a pleasure to listen to. During the boxing matches that are also performed there, the acoustic is, of course, not as important.
In any case, the hall is impressive. The glass cuppola and the rotunda with a diameter of 210 m make this building that is an imitation of a Roman amphitheatre to be one of the most distinctive one of London. The hall has a capacity of up to 8.000 visitors, therefrom 2.000 standing spaces. The organ with more than 10.000 pipes is also a special festure.
Vis-a-vis to the Royal Albert Hall there is the Albert Memorial. This monument in neo-gothic style was disclosed in the year 1876 by the Queen Victoria in memory of her early deceased husband. Underneath a canopy that is heighted 58 m, the golden plated statue of Prince Albert is sitting; Numerous marble reliefs and figures show different personages and the figure groups of the corners of the staircase are supposed to represent the citizens of Europe, Africa, America and Asia.
Her Majestys Theatre und Theatre Royal Haymarket
Meantime, Her Majesty's Theatre at the Haymarket London is of a special tradition. Since the year 1986, every day "The Phantom of the Opera" is performed and until now, there are no symptoms of fatigue noticeable. The theatre looks back to a long past. It was inaugurated in the year 1705, at that time under the name Queen's Theatre. This name did not last for long, as already in the year 1714, it was renamed to King's Theatre. This theatre had a special meaning to Georg Friedrich Händel, as here, most of the operas were performed.
In the year 1789, the provisional end came, as a fire destroyed the building. But is was not the definite end, as up to the year 1791, a new building was originated at the same place. For some time, the theatre continued operating under the name King's Theatre, but in the year 1837 it was renamed to Her Majesty's Theatre. If a male monarch sits on the throne, the house is named His Majesty's Theatre. In the year 1867, the theatre burned down again and at the end, it was demolished. After this changeful history, the present building was finally originated, designed by Charles John Phipps and festively inaugurated in the year 1897.
The apparently most elegnat theatre of London is also located at the Haymarket, the Theatre Royal Haymarket. It was founded in the year 1720 as Little Theatre. This name was supposed to relate to the King's Theatre of that time that was also located at the Haymarket of London and that was bigger. The Little Theatre was demolished in the year 1820 and replaced by a bigger building, the present Royal Theatre Heymarket. After the renovation of the interior in the year 1994, today it shines in new splendor.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
William Shakespeare, a name of international recognition, is the force behind the Shakespeare Globe Theatre; Who does not know at least one of the poem's works, who is the author of an amazing number of tragedies, comedies, lyrics and romances. "Hamlet", "Othello", "King Lear" or "Midsummer Dream" are only a few examples of his extended work that still today did not loose any of its effects. Of course, it is repeatedely quiestioned whether he really authored all these works by himself or if there are not other persons who are the real authors. But the scientific Shakespeare investigation has rejected these doubts and assumes that the poem really is the author of these works.
It was also Shakespeare himself who founded this theatre in the year 1598 and contributed as shareholder and actor. The premieres of most of his pieces also took place in this theatre; Renovated after a fire in the year 1613, it was closed in the year 1642 by puritans and demolished in the year 1644. This small-minded movement considered this theatre as a place of vice.
It took nearly 300 years up to its resurgence. In the year 1997, a new theatre building made after the historical model was inaugurated. The American actror Sam Wanamaker was the initiator of this reconstruction. Thereby, great importance was attached to the arquitecture of that time of the 17th century. Thus, the plaster consists of sand, lime and goat hair and ther roof is covered with straw. It was abstained from electrical lighting, it is only performed at daylight from May to September. A stage design is also missing.
But not only the arquitecture is equivalent to that time, also the "etiquette" of the 17th century is allowed. Those who don't like it can vent their displeasure with sibilances and booings. By all means, it can get very loud there, as in this theatre, there is space for approximately 1600 visitors. But the prices are not half bad, the seats costs between 11 and 29 pounds, the standing spaces are cheaper, 5 pounds.
During the opening times, some Guidances take place any 15 - 30 minutes, but not during the performances. For the owners of a London passport, these guidances are free of charge. The Shakespeare Globe Theatre is located at the southern bank of the Thames at immediate vicinity of the Millennium Bridge and the Tate Gallery of Modern Art.
The London Dungeon
Horror lovers and creep fans get their money worth in Dungeon of London, but with a certain style; At the Tooley Street underneath the London Bridge one hears some spooky sounds coming from the cellar. There, it gets down to the apparently most famous chamber of horror. Numerous artists, all disguised as monsters, criminals or other scary figures try to make the visitor repeatedely jump and cause goose-pimples to the mass.
Almost everything horrible and bloody happened in the last 2000 years in England is represented here; Executions, as for example the one of Anna Boleyn's, the second wife of Henry VIII., are enacted here and one also can experience the murders of Jack the Ripper. There is also a noticeable collection of toture and execution instruments as also the big fire of London. As a souvenir of this visit, a lady with the pest sneezes at one. Fortunately, this effect is, as all the others too, also enacted in the style of Hollywood and not real.
But those who really want to take a permanent souvenir will surely find something in the shop with scary gifts and those who did not lose the appetite after all those scary effects can also visit the restaurant of the Dungeon of London.
The entrance fee is 10 pounds for adults and 4,50 for children. The London passport cannot be applied here. But one should consider if taking children to this place at all, as it is surely not recommendable. But without doubt, this place is very popular, there are long queues at the entrance and waiting times of up to an hour is standard.
In Madam Tussaud, one can meet the big celebrities of this world, admittedly not the original but made of wax. Also the founder of this cabinet, madame herself, greets the visitor, of course also as a waxwork. Small, unimposing and dressed in black as a widow, she is oftenly simply overlooked.
Madam Tussaud, born in the year 1761 in Strasbourg, learned in Paris the modelling of waxworks. During the French Revolution, she had to manufacture the death masks of the guillotine-victims. Poeple speculate if this was the reason of her later move to London. With these masks, she toured through England until she finally settled in London.
In the year 1835, her cabinet was opened in the Baker Street, that later became even more famous through the stories of Sherlock Holmes. It was a vey lucrative idea, as the cabinet was well accepted by the London people. The Duke of Wellington considered it to be the most amusing place of London.
Madam Tussaud died at the blessed age of 89 years, but her lifework still persists and attracts each year numerous of tourists. Beside the celebrities that were already exhibited during the times of Madam Tussaud as for example King Napoleon, Henry VIII and Cinderella, today, also the famous faces of the new age are present. Those who want to stand side by side to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Boris Becker or Queen Elisabeth II. will get a good change here. But one will get no answer from the waxworks to an eventual question, neither an autograph.
Unfortunately, this amusement is not really cheap. Adults pay approximtely 22 pounds, children still about 19 pounds and the family card is reflected in the budget by 78 pounds. The London passport is useless here, there are no discounts. The exhibition opens during the week from 09.30 a.m. to 05.30. p.m. and in the weekends from 09.00 .m. to 06.00 p.m. In the adjacent planetarium serves some completely different interests, as there, one can have an interactive walk through the space and experience the universe in three-dimensional representation.
Back to the index London
Author: Michael Nitzschke, Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz