The London Eye is one of the most iconic sights of London. It is visited by over 3.5 million people a year making it the UK’s most popular paid attraction. The structure is 135 meters high in a perfect central location on the south bank of River Thames opposite the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Inside its 25 people capsules it provides the greatest views of central London spanning up to 40 km in each directions, from the City and Canary Wharf to the east to as far back as the Windsor castle to the West.
The London Eye is one of the most entertaining and magical way to experience London and should be a top priority when visiting the capital.
The London Eye was built in 1999 to become the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. It was inspired by the great vision of architect couple David Marks and Jolia Barfield. It is now been surpassed by the 160m Star of Nanchang and the 165m Singapore Flyer, but remain the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. It first opened its doors to the public in March 2000 as a metaphor for the turning of the century. It was first known the British Airways London Eye and since January 2011, it has been officially named as the EDF Energy London Eye following a three-year sponsorship deal.
It has since become a landmark and symbol of London, being the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world. Sir Richard Rogers, winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize, wrote of the London Eye in a book about the project: “The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people, but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible, and it is in a great position at the heart of London“.
Here are the top 10 interesting facts about the London Eye:
1. The London Eye took seven years to build with the help of hundreds of people from five different countries.
2. The London Eye can carry 800 passengers per revolution which is equivalent to 11 London red double decker buses.
3. The London Eye capsules travel at a 26cm per second, or 0.9km (0.6 miles) per hour allowing passengers to step on and off without the wheel having to stop.
4. Each of the London Eye 32 capsules weighs 10 tonnes and can fit up to 25 people.
5. The views from the London Eye goes as far as 40km (25 miles) in each directions offering views of the Windsor castle on a clear day.
6. The London Eye welcomes an average of 3.5 million customers every year making it the most visited paid London attractions
7. The total weight of the London eye (wheel and capsules) is 2,100 tonnes.
8. The height of the London eye is 135m making it the fourth tallest structure in London after the BT tower, tower 42 and one Canada square in Canary Wharf.
9. The circumference of the London eye wheel is 424m (1.392ft) .
10. The London Eye spindle holds the wheel structure and the hub rotates it around the spindle.
Every time I was in London on vacation I haven’t missed taking pictures with one of the most popular landmarks of the capital. The best way to get there is by tube or taking the London River Services operated by Thames Clipper and City Cruises that stops at the nearby Waterloo Millennium Pier. Although Waterloo is the nearest tube station, the London Eye is within walking distance from several other underground stations including Embankment, Charring Cross and Westminster. The London Eye is also on most London Sightseeing tour bus routes. Driving is perhaps not the best way to get to the London Eye as there are always lots of traffic near the area.
The London Eye is perfectly located on the South Bank of River Thames, opposite to the one of the greatest London landmarks, the Big Ben and House of Parliaments. It is part of the London Borough of Lambeth and set between the Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. Besides these two landmarks of London, from the London Eye you can also see: The City, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Canary Wharf and Windsor Castle. It is also possible to view other famous sights including the Heathrow Airport to the west, Alexander Palace to the north and Crystal Palace to the south.
For me it was definitely much better to go to London Eye at night. Photography is great for the day, but the lights of London are spectacular at night.
Stay tuned for my article about London Eye at night!