The Houses of Parliament and the clock tower, commonly called Big Ben, are among London's most iconic landmarks.
Technically, Big Ben is the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg).
The History of Big Ben
The Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire in 1834. In 1844, it was decided the new buildings for the Houses of Parliament should include a tower and a clock. The bell was refashioned in Whitechapel in 1858 and the clock first rang across Westminster on 31 May 1859.
Just two months later, Big Ben cracked. A lighter hammer was fitted and the bell rotated to present an undamaged section to the hammer. This is the bell as we hear it today.
Visiting Big Ben in London
The clock tower is not open to the general public. However, it is possible for UK residents to arrange a visit by writing to their MP. Applications should be made in writing, as far in advance as possible, to:
House of Commons
It is not possible for overseas visitors to tour the clock tower.