What's the nickname for London

City of London: Sights that hardly anyone knows

Outside business hours, visitors to the City of London feel like they are on a science fiction ghost planet: futuristic buildings, but no one around. This is precisely where the visit is worthwhile.

It's Saturday morning. When we leave our hotel in the morning, empty streets await us. What's happening? Why are there hardly any people and cars here? We can quickly find the solution on our walk: We are in the banking and office district in the east of the City of London. According to Wikipedia, this is the smallest and least populated part of London. There are high-rise buildings everywhere, but nobody lives here. Could there be a few sights here too?

We know of at least one, my wife Katrin and I. We want to visit Leadenhall Market, just a few blocks away. So we're going through the quiet city. And between all the mirrored standard buildings, we quickly discover sights that we would not have expected. First smaller:

This gargoyle, which once served to supply the residents with drinking water, is called Aldgate Pump and has stood here since 1876. The structure is probably older - Londoners like to relocate their monuments. The wolf's head is said to commemorate the last wolf shot in the City of London.

A little further, “The Gherkin” - in English: the pickled cucumber - peaks through the canyons. The building is actually called 30 St Mary Ax, but because of its striking resemblance to a cornichon, the English humorously christened the building with its new nickname.

It opened here in 2004, just a bit behind St Andrew Undershaft Church, which makes a wonderful contrast. The Gherkin was planned by Sir Norman Foster, a famous architect to whom we Germans also owe the new Reichstag dome and the French the Viaduc de Millau.

St Mary Ax Street gained notoriety in 1993 when an IRA bomb explosion left one dead, 40 injured and many buildings destroyed there. Terror - certainly nothing new in London. (And we too would see that same evening that the city did not calm down. It was the day of the attack on London Bridge.)

But first we turn around, because a new tower is being built exactly where St Mary Ax meets Leadenhall Street.

Nickname: "The Scalpel" - the scalpel. Because it will have a pretty sharp design when it's done. Here, too, well-known architects wielded the pencil: the Kohn Pedersen Fox office has designed many skyscrapers, including in Frankfurt am Main.

Lloyds of London: The inside-out house

In the back right corner of the picture, the inclined reader recognizes the top of another building. We stood in front of it for a while, puzzling. A milk factory? Here in the middle of London? Or a slaughterhouse? It would look dull enough, and seldom ugly anyway. We had to walk to the side of the building to get to Leadenhall Market. There, actually an entrance. People go in here, even if there are only portholes instead of windows. The poor! I don't photograph such an ugly building. Best to tear it off!

Well, it's the Lloyds of London office building. And yes: people work in there. Here, too, the English have found a suitable nickname: The inside-out building, quasi “the house turned inside out”. Suitable.

As I said, unfortunately I didn't take a photo, so I use Wikipedia as an exception.

And believe me: this is a flattering reception. One of the architects is Richard Rogers, who also worked on the very similar-looking Center Georges Pompidou - the French nicknamed their building the “refinery”. It seems to be an obsession of the architect to create thinking “factories”.

Leadenhall Market: Magical in every way

But behind the Lloyds building we are finally on target. We enter Leadenhall Market and are thrown back in time.

If that seems a little familiar: The covered market provided a backdrop for Diagon Alley for the first Harry Potter film. In the later films, however, this was built in the studio.

In fact, there is a lot of magic to be found here. Dragons for example ...

... small side streets ...

... or round windows under the firmament.

The market at this point dates back to the 14th century when there were still lead roofs - that's Leadenhall. It was destroyed by fire in 1666 and rebuilt in its current form in 1888.

20 Fenchurch Street: The Walkie Talkie House

But time to leave this beautiful place and dive back into the modern age. A little behind Leadenhall Market, another skyscraper towers over the surrounding buildings.

Another piece of the most modern architecture, 20 Fenchurch Street. And - of course - the Londoner has a nickname for the building: The Walkie Talkie. Right. Has a certain resemblance. The special thing here: at the top there is the Skygarden with a wonderful view over the city. But you have to register beforehand, it is not possible to come by spontaneously. Unfortunately we have not registered.

The specialty of the building: it gets wider and wider at the top. The architect Rafael Viñoly is also involved in the second tallest building in Manhattan, New York. 423 Park Avenue, however, is a very slender tower.

So we're moving on, wanting to St Paul's Cathedral and the Thames. On the way we discover this house that reminds us a little of our favorite style: Art Déco. In fact, 30 Canon Street dates from the 1970s. It's nice anyway.

A few steps further and we see St Paul's Cathedral.

We take a look at the gardens there, but entry inside is too expensive for us. But behind it we find the city gate Temple Bar, the last city gate of London from ancient times.

However, it doesn't really belong here, like the fountain at the very beginning of our excursion, the city gate was transplanted here.

Millennium Bridge: View over the Thames

In the end we go back to modern architecture - or better said: we go over modern architecture, we go over the Millennium Bridge. And here we come full circle: This pedestrian bridge over the Thames was also designed by Sir Norman Foster. It connects the City of London with the other bank and leads straight to the Tate Gallery of Modern Art.

From the bridge you have another view of the modern City of London.

Conclusion: We really enjoyed the trip to modern London - the new buildings are as architectural highlights as the old ones.