The interesting thing about people coming to London from overseas is that they visit in order to discover and participate in a great deal of different things. Hardly surprising, you might say, given the extraordinary diversity and choice of stunning and eclectic attractions that fill the place.
However, to some extent and not to play too much to stereotypes, overseas visitors to the UK capital do tag together when it comes to nationalities and which things they like to see and what kind of things they like to get up to while they’re over here. For instance, a significant proportion of American tourists are eager to check out London’s Royal-related sites, while a good number of French folk make a beeline for the city’s outstanding art exhibits. And, for their part, people from Germany (who make up a fair degree of London’s most eager visitors from abroad)are often – maybe unsurprisingly – drawn to attractions that celebrate an appreciation of all things well-engineered.
Sources suggest that a good number of them especially seek out that engineering marvel of the Victorian age, the spectacular and iconic Tower Bridge (and its exhibitions); featuring, of course, the instantly recognisable old bascule bridge and, inside, the steam room and, above, the high, iron walkways that afford one terrific views of Central London in both directions (up and down the Thames). Situated on the edge of the City of London, this sensational attraction is an ideal one to top your list – from wherever you hail in the world – should you be staying in that area of town; say, at The Montcalm London City at The Brewery hotel.
Another of the top London attractions for German visitors is that other popular site on the Thames, the one-time pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Belfast. Dripping with delightful sea-going detail and rich military history, the only surviving gun ship from the Second World War and the Korean War is now an exhibit over whose decks and through whose galleys tourists can scramble to their hearts’ content. Indeed, another maritime marvel is to be found at Greenwich in the shape of the recently renovated Victorian clipper boat, the Cutty Sark, which (following millions of pounds of work after a recent, fateful fire) now looks as good as new.
Heading east into The City itself, our friends from Germany also highly rate another technological triumph in the shape of The Monument. An undoubted landmark of the capital, this, yes, monument was designed by the Restoration era’s architect extraordinaire Sir Christopher Wren as a commemoration of the Great Fire of London of 1666 – and those whom perished as a result of its outbreak. Erected nearly 350 years ago, it’s not only the oldest stone column in the world, standing a proud 202 feet high, but by chance is located exactly 202 feet away from the site where the fire broke out in Pudding Lane. Perhaps its biggest draw is that visitors are welcome to climb its 311 steps for – again – a spectacular panoramic view of the city that surrounds it – and way out beyond.
Don’t doubt it, despite the friendly and affectionate rivalries between Germans and the British that sustain to this day (mostly through sport events, especially football); visitors to London from the former country tend to outnumber their French and Italian counterparts. And another – admittedly universal – attraction outside of Central London they probably unsurprisingly like to travel to is the historically rich Wembley Stadium, home to English football.
And who can blame them? Just don’t mention that goal that did/ didn’t cross the line back in the 1966 World Cup final to help ease England to victory – and condemn West Germany to defeat. Clearly, in being such committed and genial visitors to so many London sights, however, our German cousins have got over that match by now. At least, one hopes so!