The United Kingdom is a tiny little island floating in the North Sea, with the English Channel separating it from the rest of Europe. The history of this tiny island has had a profound impact on the rest of the world. The enduring principles of Liberty laid down in the Magna Carta signed by King John of England in 1215, laid the foundation of democracy as we know it today. During the colonial era Great Britain emerged as the most powerful colonial power, with colonies in all corners of the earth. It was said that ‘the sun never set on the British Empire. Today London the capital is known as the financial capital of the European Union.
This impressive history has left behind a long train of historical monuments that make London the most visited city in the European Union. Every year, approximately 15 million foreign tourists head in to London. This gives London a 2 million edge over its nearest rival, Paris. The sites that draw in the visitors are mainly historic. They include the Tower of London (built in 1078), Trafalgar Square (18052), Hyde Park (1635), Buckingham Palace (1837) and Westminster Abbey (1065). Despite the historic and cultural value of these sites, the amazing newcomer The London Eye has in its miniscule 15 year history become the most visited paying tourist attraction in London. It is one of London’s major capital symbols.
FACT 1: The London Eye is a gigantic Ferris wheel situated on the South bank of the River Thames. It rises majestically into the London skyline from the West End of the Jubilee Gardens.
FACT 2: There were many architects on the construction team of the London Eye; among them is the husband wife pair, Julia Barfield and David Marks, whose family were co- owners of the project along with the Tussauds Group and British Airways
FACT 3: The London Eye is the tallest observation tower in the world. It is 135 meters high, 30 meters higher than the tower in Yokohama Bay, Japan. It also towers over rival attractions the Big Ben and St Pauls Cathedral. The wheel has a massive diameter of 125 meters.
FACT 4: The wheel has 35 capsules. Each capsule takes 25 passengers, giving them a spectacular 25 mile view of the city when their capsule is on the top. The capsules are air-conditioned and weigh 10 tonnes each, when empty. Each capsule is designed to represent a London Borough.
FACT 5: The London Eye can carry 15,000 visitors a day. Since its inaugural trip in 2000, eighteen million tourists have visited it.
FACT 6: The London Eye has also had its share of zany visitors. In 2003, the world famous magician David Blaine stood atop one of the structures pods through the complete 30 minute revolution. However this feat does not match up to the antics of a Fathers 4 Justice activist, who stayed 18 hours on one of the pods.
FACT 7: The wheel runs almost 12 hours a day without stopping. It slows down for passengers to get on or off, but only stops, if necessary, for elderly or disabled passengers.
FACT 8: Before alighting, passengers can preserve their London Eye experience, by posing for a photo in the capsule. This photo can be purchased from the gift shop.
FACT 9: Since 2005, the London Eye has been the focal point for the London New Year’s Eve celebrations.
FACT 10: Since 2007, the London Eye has been owned by Merlin Entertainment. The land it stands on belongs to the South Bank Centre. The Eye pays the South Bank Centre a princely one million pounds annual rent. This in itself belies former Tory minister, Sir John Fawsley’s prediction that the London Eye would be London’s White Elephant.