Round London Sightseeng Tour — страница 3

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the British Parlia­ment So, this is where the House of Commons and the I house of Lords work. the British Parliament are here, all laws are passed and all important political and social questions are discussed in this building. This is where the Monarch of the UK reads her special speech to the Government and the nation once a year. The Palace of Westminster, together with Victoria Tower and the Clock Tower - which houses the most famous clock in the world, Big Ben - form an unmistakable architectural complex. But the Towers and the Houses of Parliament are not only associated architecturally, but also in the democratic spirit that rules the political life developed in the House of Commons, for, if Parliament is sitting - British parliamentary debates constitute an exemplary

political spectacle - the flag flies on top of Victoria Tower during the whole day. If the debates go on during the night - which quite often happens in the dynamic parliamentary life of Great Britain, especially if matters highly important for the nation are being discussed - a light burns above Big Ben in the Clock Tower. This light at night and the flag during the day-time signal for the people of London that the members of Parliament, each from his own political point of view, are watching over the nation's interests. The Houses of Parliament are open to the public and we can enter it and see some very interesting historic rooms and halls. . Now, when we are inside the building, look at the ceiling of the main hall. You see the three colours of Parliament — gold that

symbolizes the Monarchy, red — the symbol of the House of Lords and green — the symbol of the House of Commons. The building is divided in three parts accord­ing to these colours. First, the Robing Hall. In this room the Monarch receive the Imperial State Crown which is placed on his/her head just before he/she walks through the corridor to the House of Lords to read his annual address. This Crown is usually kept in the Tower. It is used only once a year. The Monarch wears it during the opening Parliament. This rooms lead us to the Royal Gallery where there are Royal portraits. These are kings and queens from the ancient times till nowadays. And these two large paintings show the scenes from the battles which were fought against the French in the 19th century — the

Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Waterloo. Now we are going to the House of Lords. This part of the palace does not seem very old.It is not very old because in the Second World War the palace was bombed and this part of it was rebuilt in the 1950s. The Lords sit on the red benches and the Lord Chancellor who is the head of the House sit at the end of the hall on the big red divan, which is often called “the woolsack”. It is called so because many years ago, he really sat on the wool­sack, it was used as the symbol of the prosperity of England but today it is just a divan. And here is the House of Com­mons. The prevailing colour here is green. As you see the members of the Parliament sit on the green benches. The head of the House is the Speaker and he sits on the

green chair. I am sure, you have heard much about BIG BEN. The clock bell was called after Sir Benjamin Hall, who was given a job of having the bell hoisted up. Sir Benjamin was a very tall and stout man, whose nickname was “Big Ben”. One day he said in Parliament: “Shall we call the bell St. Stephen’s because of the name of the tower?” But someone joked: “Why not call it Big Ben?”. Now the bell is known all over the world by that name. The bell is 7 feet 6 inches high, and 9 feet 6 inches across the mouth. It weights 13.5 tons (about the same as two double-decker buses). The bell is heard at every hour. It is the big bell with a deep voice, and it counts the hours. Its deep voice is heard on the radio. You may hear, "This is the BBC. The time is six

o'clock". And you hear the deep BOOM of Big Ben six times. But let’s go on. We have an interesting place to visit. We are going to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is a magnificent, unique building, one of the greatest churches in the world. In fact, there has been a Cathedral on this site since 604 AD but it was destroyed and rebuilt at least three times and he Cathedral you can see today dates back to the 17th century, very day about 40,000 people come to St. Paul’s. When in 66 the Cathedral was burnt down as a result of the Great Fire of London, the plans were made to build a new Cathedral at once. The construction finished only in 1710. Many famous artists took part in the decorating of St. Paul’s: the beautiful frescoes and glit­tering mosaics that the visitors