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The Attractions of LondonMarch 19, 2019
The City of London seems to have an identity crisis. It calls itself a city, but it is a city within London, with London being a much bigger city. The City of London has a population of about 7000. London, as a city, has a population of 8.1 million.
This smaller place, known as the City of London, also calls itself a county. This is a political thing – it dictates its local councillors. Some say it is the unofficial 33rd borough of London, which are the official districts of the capital city as a whole. However, to really throw a curve ball, the City of London has its own government, mayor and police force. Don’t worry – it’s not the Vatican – you can enter without a passport.
Confused? Yes, most people are. It is best to think of it is as ‘The City' or as the square mile (even though it takes up two square miles). This way everyone knows what you mean – particularly black cabbies and Uber drivers.
The City of London Corporation, the independent government of this area, is the oldest continuous democratic commune in the world. The City is the original London – or Londinium to be exact.
It’s a history thing
This is the fortified Roman settlement that was erected about 2000 years ago on the northern bank of the River Thames. It is this history as a Roman settlement that gives The City its colloquial name The Square Mile. The area still recognises the status of "citizen" as defined by the Roam Empire. It became a commune in 1191, and it has never succumbed to rule by the Crown.
If you want to see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, you will need to cross the historical boundaries into the City of London. You can also visit the famous Old Spitalfields Market or Leadenhall Market.
To be sure of the limits of the City of London you can check out the cast iron dragons in the street. Greater London emerged from this beginning, a spreading population that gobbled up lots of villages and towns until it became the capital city of today.
Today is the future
The City is the FinTech capital of the world, along with New York. It is the home of the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater (look at the skyline of the City of London, and this will make sense). The Bank of England calls it home, as well as many international financial giants. More than a third of the City of London skyline is owned by foreign investors.
Each day The City is flooded with 400,000 commuters who fill its offices. Each year it attracts 10 million tourists. It is an area full of restaurants and bars, including the London Cocktail Club and Blacklock City. You can be sure of a coffee shop on every corner and some cool hangout areas like Hampstead Heath.
More than anything, when you visit the City of London, you will feel like you are lost on the set of a movie.