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Christmas Gift Guide

Walls and walls and walls

Entrance

Archers!

Mint Street

Walled city

Water Lane

The view back

Traitor's Gate

St. Thomas Tower

Richly appointed rooms

Tower Bridge

Wakefield Tower

Symbols of London

White Tower

Black knight

Kings and dissidents

Up on the walls

Sound advice

Urban encroachment

Arrows

Send a raven

In this corner

Waterloo

Three towers

Tower Green

Waterloo and White

Old walls and...older walls

White Tower

Wall of armor

Kights and horses

Mixed use

View from the keep

Weapons and armor

There be dragons

Passageways

Museum within a museum

Cannon in the basement

Play 'Freebird!'

Cradle Tower

Another entrance

Porter

Cannon on display

Inside the Mint

Yeoman Warder

Leaving the Tower

Traitor's Gate

Tower Bridge

From the Shard

Despite its name, the "Tower" refers to the entire castle. Each of the individual towers has its own name. This view is the approach from Tower Hill tube station.

For the full story behind this tour, check out The Tower of London: Take a look inside.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Note the multiple layers of defensive walls. The tall building in the back is the keep, called the White Tower.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

After paying a, ahem, kingly sum to enter, you proceed across a bridge over what was once a moat.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Metal sculptures throughout the Tower represent the soldiers who once defended the castle.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Passing through the first wall, you're greeted by this long building, which at one point housed the Royal Mint around the time it was run by Isaac Newton.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Not just defensive walls and a keep, the Tower consists of many buildings both within, or in this case, attached to, its walls.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This is Water Lane, which extends the length of the Outer Ward on the river side of the castle.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Water Lane looking back towards the entrance (and where I took the last photo) from roughly mid-way.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The infamous Traitor's Gate, mentioned in many books of history and fiction, not least Neal Stephenson's epic Baroque Cycle (I saw no signs of Enoch Root anywhere).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The area above Traitor's Gate was once a series of richly appointed rooms...not that you can tell that from this picture.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Ah, that's more like it. It's a massive room by the standards of the era. I'm standing roughly in the middle.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

It amazes my British friends that so many Americans think this is called "London Bridge."

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

You don't even notice you've crossed a bridge over Water Lane to Wakefield Tower. Built by Henry III in the 1220s, it's one of the oldest parts of the castle.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Three of the most iconic symbols of the city: Tower Bridge, the Tower and the Shard (Big Ben is farther up the river).

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The Inner Ward, with the White Tower. The wall on the left is one of the original walls of the Innermost Ward.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A metal knight stands ready to attack those who approach Salt Tower.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Salt Tower was once a prison for many important men. Some of their words remain scraped into the walls.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Looking inward, it's like looking back in time. Look outward, and the contrast with the modern world is stark.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This was posted on the wall. Can't say I disagree...

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

With this view especially, I wonder what the many builders of the Tower would think of London today, and that their castle is now pretty much solely a tourist attraction. (Editor's note: That brick building on the right edge of shot, once a warehouse, used to house CNET's UK offices.)

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

You want to get shot by an arrow, buddy? That's how you get shot by an arrow.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

These ravens are big. The size of cats. They make spooky noises. They do not care about you. Legend has it that should they fly away, the monarchy will fall and Britain with it. Hence their wings being clipped -- they can't fly away.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The Shard peaks out from over the wall, looking in on someone's...laundry?

The Yeomen Warders, aka the "Beefeaters," can actually live in the castle.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The Waterloo Block is home to Jewel House, where the Crown Jewels are kept. No photos allowed. Spoiler: they're shiny.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The White Tower on the left, with Tower Bridge in the distance.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The picturesque Tower Green. Watch me ruin it: A few queens and some other nobles were beheaded here. Before that it was a burial ground.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Though not as sprawling as the Citadel of Carcassonne, the Tower of London is pretty massive and, today at least, has a lot of open space.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

One of the old walls of the Innermost Ward. Up next we head to the keep.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The interior of the White Tower has been converted almost entirely to a museum.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Suits of armor from various kings are on display.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

These are not, as commonly believed, the knights who say "ni."

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This space was used for a variety of different things throughout its life. Originally it was likely part of the royal apartments. Later it was used as an armory, magazine and today, a museum.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

All told it's a pretty fantastic view, though I bet it was drafty when new.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Interestingly, it's not just English and British artifacts. There's even samurai armor on loan from a museum in Japan.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Keeper seemed friendly, if a little cold.

But seriously, who stores gunpowder with a dragon? Think people, think!

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Between the main room and the outer wall there were passages like this. Might have helped a bit with insulation and protection.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

All in all it's a great museum, and a fascinating look back into what life was like during the many ages of the castle.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

After heading down (many) stairs, you'll find rows of cannon and mortars in the basement.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Throughout the day there are many events. This one, as I left the White Tower, marched from here down towards the river.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Cradle Tower was once a private water gate for Edward III. None of those public water gates for old King Ed.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A wooden dock extended out into the river, though now the land has been reclaimed and the river is farther away.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Porters had lodges, so they could be ready to help the king when he wanted to jaunt up or down the river.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

More cannon for defense of the castle, now plugged and decorative.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

As I exited, I noticed a small series of rooms where the Royal Mint once was. The coinage was rather fascinating, as was Isaac Newton's involvement.

There was no mention of Jack Shaftoe.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A Yeomen Warder making his way down Mint Street.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I recommend heading out and passing between the river and the Castle for a last few looks, then heading towards Tower Bridge.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

One last look at Traitor's Gate, this time from the other side. It would probably look a lot cooler with water.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The view of Tower Bridge from the Queen's Walk next to the Tower. I cribbed this from my Instagram.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

To round out your day, keep walking towards the Shard (you can hardly miss it), and check out the view from the top. I recommend watching the sun set over the Tower, the bridge and the rest of this amazing city. (This is from my Instagram too.)

For the full story behind this tour, check out The Tower of London: Take a look inside.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
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