Guides by Lonely Planet
Houses of Parliament
A visit here is a journey to the heart of UK democracy. Officially called the Palace of Westminster, the Houses of Parliament's oldest part is 11th-century Westminster Hall, one of only a few sections that survived a catastrophic fire in 1834. Its roof, added between 1394 and 1401, is the earliest known example of a hammerbeam roof. The rest is mostly a neo-Gothic confection built by Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin for 20 years from 1840. The palace's most famous feature is its clock tower, officially the Elizabeth Tower but better known as Big Ben.