joi, 11 septembrie 2008

Parks and gardens

The largest parks in the central area of London are the Royal Parks of Hyde Park and its neighbour Kensington Gardens at the western edge of central London and Regent's Park on the northern edge. This park contains London Zoo, the world's oldest scientific zoo, and is located near the tourist attraction of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Closer to central London are the smaller Royal Parks of Green Park and St. James's Park. Hyde Park in particular is popular for sports and sometimes hosts open-air concerts.
A number of large parks lie outside the city centre, including the remaining Royal Parks of Greenwich Park to the south-east and Bushy Park and Richmond Park to the south-west, as well as Victoria Park, East London to the east. Primrose Hill to the north of Regent's Park is a popular spot to view the city skyline. Some more informal, semi-natural open spaces also exist, including the 791-acre (3.2 km2) Hampstead Heath of North London. This incorporates Kenwood House, the former stately home and a popular location in the summer months where classical musical concerts are held by the lake, attracting thousands of people every weekend to enjoy the music, scenery and fireworks.


London is too diverse to be characterised by any particular architectural style, having accumulated its buildings over a long period of time and drawn on a wide range of influences. It is, however, mainly brick built, most commonly the yellow London stock brick or a warm orange-red variety, often decorated with carvings and white plaster mouldings. Many grand houses and public buildings (such as the National Gallery) are constructed from Portland stone. Some areas of the city, particularly those just west of the centre, are characterised by white stucco or whitewashed buildings. Few structures pre-date the Great Fire of 1666, except for a few trace Roman remains, the Tower of London and a few scattered Tudor survivors in the City. A majority of buildings in London date from the Edwardian or Victorian periods.The disused (but soon to be rejuvenated) 1939 Battersea Power Station by the river in the south-west is a local landmark, while some railway termini are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, most notably St Pancras and Paddington (at least internally).
The density of London varies, with high employment density in the central area, high residential densities in inner London and lower densities in the suburbs. In the dense areas, most of the concentration is achieved with medium-rise and high-rise buildings. London's skyscrapers such as the notable "Gherkin", Tower 42, the Broadgate Tower and One Canada Square are usually found in the two financial districts, the City of London and Canary Wharf. Other notable modern buildings include City Hall in Southwark with its distinctive oval shape, the British Library in Somers Town/Kings Cross, and the Great Court of the British Museum. What was formerly the Millennium Dome, located by the Thames to the east of Canary Wharf, is now used as an entertainment venue known as The O2.
The development of tall buildings has been encouraged in the London Plan, which will lead to the erection of many new skyscrapers over the next decade, particularly in the City of London and Canary Wharf. The 72-storey, 1,017 feet (310 m) "Shard London Bridge" by London Bridge station, the 945 feet (288 m) Bishopsgate Tower and many other skyscrapers over 500 feet (150 m) are either proposed or approved and could transform the city's skyline. As of July 2008, there are 426 high-rise buildings under construction, approved for construction, and proposed for construction in London.

A great many monuments pay homage to people and events in the city. The Monument in the City of London provides views of the surrounding area while commemorating the Great Fire of London, which originated nearby. Marble Arch and Wellington Arch, at the north and south ends of Park Lane respectively, have royal connections, as do the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. Nelson's Column is a nationally-recognised monument in Trafalgar Square, one of the focal points of the centre.


London has a temperate marine climate, like much of the British Isles, so the city rarely sees extremely high or low temperatures.
Summers are warm with average high temperatures of 23 °C (73 °F) and lows of 14 °C (57 °F), however, temperatures could exceed 25 °C (77 °F) on many days. Winters in London are chilly, but rarely below freezing with temperatures around 2 - 8 °C (36 - 46 °F), while spring has mild days and cool evenings.
London has regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year, with average precipitation of 583.6 mm (22.98 in) every year. Snow is relatively uncommon, particularly because heat from the urban area can make London up to 5 °C (9 °F) hotter than the surrounding areas in winter. Light snowfall, however, is sometimes seen a few times a year, although it is not uncommon to have no snow during the colder months. London is in USDA Hardiness zone 9, and AHS Heat Zone 2.


London is the largest urban area in, and the capital of, England and the United Kingdom. An important settlement for two millennia, London's history goes back to its founding by the Romans. Since its settlement, London has been part of many important movements and phenomena throughout history, such as the English Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the Gothic Revival. The city's core, the ancient City of London, still retains its limited medieval boundaries; but since at least the 19th century the name "London" has also referred to the whole metropolis which has developed around it. Today the bulk of this conurbation forms the London region of England and the Greater London administrative area, with its own elected mayor and assembly.
London is the world's leading business, financial, and one of the world's leading cultural centres, and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as a major global city. London boasts four World Heritage Sites: The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church; the Tower of London; the historic settlement of Greenwich; and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The city is a major tourist destination both for domestic and overseas visitors. London's diverse population draws from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, and over 300 languages are spoken within the city. As of 2006, it has an official population of 7,512,400 within the boundaries of Greater London and is the most
marire penis populous municipality in the European Union. As of 2001, the Greater London Urban Area has a population of 8,278,251 and the metropolitan area is estimated to have a total population of between 12 and 14 million. London is the current Olympic City and will be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The etymology of London remains a mystery. The earliest etymological explanation can be attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae. The name is described as originating from King Lud, who had allegedly taken over the city and named it Kaerlud. This was slurred into Kaerludein and finally London. Few modern sources support this theory. Many other theories have been advanced over the centuries, most of them deriving the name from Welsh or British, and occasionally from Anglo-Saxon or even Hebrew.
In 1998, Richard Coates, a linguistics professor, criticised these suggestions, and proposed that the name derives from the pre-Celtic *plowonida, which roughly means "a river too wide to ford". He suggested that the Thames running through London was given this name, and the inhabitants added the suffix -on or -onjon to their settlement. Proto-Indo-European *p was regularly lost in proto-Celtic, and through linguistic change, the name developed from Plowonidonjon to Lundonjon, then contracted to Lundein or Lundyn, Latinised to Londinium, and finally borrowed by the Anglo-Saxons as Lundene.