London is steeped in history, royal pomp and splendor, with many places to explore.
The popular sites include Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and more. However, the city also has a more unusual side, some of which you may have already seen in the movies.
Take a step off the beaten tourist path in London this year and visit some of these seemingly familiar locations.
1. Leadenhall Market
London is well known for its shopping. The city is full of markets, boutiques and shopping malls, and there is plenty of retail therapy on offer. However, this 19th-century Victorian market is a little different.
Located in the center of London’s financial district, Leadenhall Market dates back as far as the 14th century. However, the market has more recent fame.
If readers have seen the “Harry Potter” series of films, they may recognize this spot. Leadenhall Market starred in a number of the films and was used as exterior shots of Diagon Alley – the wizarding world’s shopping hub where Hogwarts students bought their school supplies.
Head down Bull’s Head Passage to see a blue door, which now belongs to an optics shop, but was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in “Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire.” Nowadays, it seems, even Muggles can visit the many shops and restaurants throughout Leadenhall Market.
2. Platform 9¾ – King’s Cross Station
As a first time visitor, getting around in England can be somewhat bewildering. However, London’s major railway stations are great hubs for exploring other centers.
Staying with Harry Potter and the popular film series, the fictional Platform 9¾ does exist in London’s King’s Cross Station. To keep things “realistic” you will even see a luggage trolley, stuck halfway into the wall.
The attraction has moved around quite a bit in the railway station, but now has a permanent location close to platforms 9 and 10, just below the walkway to the main station building. Right next door is a book shop with plenty of “Harry Potter” books on sale in the window. What better way to promote your stock than with something that appears in the novels and films!
3. A visit to Paddington Station
Generations of children have enjoyed the story of Paddington Bear. This famous character was, according to the story, found at London’s Paddington Station. He sat with his suitcase and a note asking people to “Please look after this bear” after he traveled all the way from Lima in Peru.
In the story – which has also been made famous in various films – the Brown family finds the lonely bear and takes him home with them. They go on to name him Paddington Bear after the place where he was found.
Sadly, the story was also inspired by young child evacuees during World War II in London, who were seen with labels around their necks and possessions packed into tiny suitcases. However, the books by Michael Bond have been enjoyed by countless children. More than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide and also there are the movies to enjoy.
Paddington Station is the place to see a beautiful, life-size bronze statue of Paddington Bear, standing with his suitcase and his note. The statue was designed by English sculptor Marcus Cornish and stands close to a Paddington Bear shop in the station, selling merchandise related to one of our favorite furry friends.
Of interest to note, there is another Paddington Bear statue on the other side of the world in his home town of Lima, Peru. The bronze statue was gifted by the British Embassy and stands above the Miraflores Boardwalk.
Enjoy exploring London, England, with all its many attractions and make sure you visit these iconic spots from the books and movies!