Delve into British politics at this historic complex, the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The Palace of Westminster, more commonly known as Houses of Parliament, is at the heart of U.K. politics. Take a self-guided audio tour or a guide-led tour to view the many remarkable sections, chief among them the Norman-era Westminster Hall and its hammer-beam roof.
The first palace was erected here in the 11th century, though only a few small sections of that structure survived a devastating fire in 1834. Embark on a tour to get inside the vast Westminster Hall, one of the oldest surviving sections of Parliament. Most of the rest of the palace is neo-Gothic in style and dates back to the mid-19th century.
Step inside the red-benched House of Lords, home to more than 750 peers who debate and vote on various matters. The tours also includes entry to the lower house, the House of Commons, where the 650 Members of Parliament elected by the British public sit.
Explore the Robing Room where the queen dons here ceremonial gear before entering the House of Lords. Look for the exquisite artworks by distinguished Scottish artist William Dyce that adorn this space. Tours also lead guests to the Royal Gallery, the Prince’s Chamber and the Members’ Lobby among other spaces. Finish your tour in style with afternoon tea in a riverside terrace for an additional fee.
To the north end of the complex is Elizabeth Tower, which contains the massive bell popularly known as Big Ben. Limited tours of the tower are available to U.K. residents only, so overseas visitors will have to make do with admiring the iconic structure from outside. Return to take photographs of Big Ben at night when the clock faces are illuminated.
Find the spectacular Westminster Abbey just west of the complex. This building is noted for its exceptional stained-glass windows and imposing Gothic architecture.
The Houses of Parliament are on the northern bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster. To come here, ride the Tube to Westminster Station. Book and pay for your tour online in advance to ensure access.