Top 10 facts about the Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of the city’s most famous historical landmarks, and has a fascinating history. Here are 10 Tower of London facts.

1. It was built as a royal palace and a defence system

The Tower was founded by William the Conqueror towards the end of the 1066. The primary function of military stronghold of the Tower didn’t change until the late 19th century.

2. The Tower is designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO…

There are 911 World Heritage Sites worldwide. The Tower of London is included as it is one of the very few intact medieval buildings.

3. ‘If the ravens leave the Tower the Kingdom will fall…’

At least 6 ravens are kept at the Tower of London at all time, for superstitious reasons. The flock of resident ravens even includes a 'spare'! Each raven has a wing clipped to make sure they don’t fly too far from home.

4. There are over 23,500 jewels there today

The Crown Jewels were moved to the Martin Tower after the Jewel House was demolished. The total value of the jewels is estimated to exceed £20 billion.

5. 22 executions took place within the Tower of London

The last person to be executed at the Tower of London was a German spy Josef Jakobs on August 15th 1941 after being caught parachuting into England. He was seated in a chair when he was shot. The chair is still preserved today at the Royal Armouries’ artifacts store.

6. During the 1200s a royal zoo was founded at the Tower of London and remained there for 600 years

It was filled with exotic animals such as polar bears, lions, kangaroos, ostriches and elephants. When the tower zoo closed down in 1835, all the animals where moved to the new London Zoo in Regent’s Park. Today you will be able to see sculptures of these animals that once lived in the tower.

7. Someone somewhere has a spare key!

In November 2012, the key to the internal lock to the Tower was stolen. The lock was immediately replaced.

8. The building and grounds were damaged in World War II

During the First World War, there was very little harm done to the Tower. Unfortunately, the Second World War damaged the castle but missed the white tower. At the end of the war, the damage was repaired and reopened to the public.

9. It's a haunted house...

Several ghosts are said to be residents at the tower of London including Henry VI, Catherine (the fifth wife of King Henry VIII), Dame Sybil who was the nurse of Prince Edward and even a grizzly bear that once lived in the tower.

10. You can book Tower of London tickets from the VisitBritain Shop and enjoy a guided tour!