Big Ben is a clock.
Don’t believe that!
MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index forecasts that London will be the world’s most popular tourist destination in 2015, for the second year in a row. Among the many must-see attractions in the city are the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and of course, Big Ben.
The clock tower at the Palace of Westminster commonly called “Big Ben” is actually just called… The Clock Tower. At least it was until 2012, when it was renamed “Elizabeth Tower” to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Big Ben is actually the name of the largest bell in the tower. First rung in 1859, the bell is seven-and-a-half feet tall, nine feet in diameter and weighs over 13 tons. Big Ben chimes every hour and can be heard up to nine miles away.
Big Ben (the bell) was probably named for Sir Benjamin Hall, London’s first Commissioner of Works who oversaw the construction of the new Palace of Westminster.
Bonus Fact #1: The tower itself is only open to UK residents, by special arrangement. To see the main bell, visitors must climb 334 steps as there is no elevator.
Bonus Fact #2: Edmund Beckett Denison, the co-designer of the clock tower, was a lawyer who only practiced clockmaking as a hobby!