Portobello Road, North Kensington
Hotels in the area :
- Kensington luxury hotels
- Kensington & South Kensington moderate price hotels
- Earls Court Hotels
- Kensington cheap hotels
Kensington is one of London's leading locations and most elegant and lively areas, home not only to some of the city's greatest attractions (see below) but also to the wide green expanse of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Kensington is also a commercial centre, being close to Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Olympia and Cromwell Road. Some of London's best shopping streets are here too, including Knightsbridge, Beauchamp Place and Kensington High Street.
Kensington, which is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, makes the ideal base to visit London. The area is famous for its wonderful Victorian architecture, from grand merchant houses to the renowned Kensington Palace, showing London at its best.
In the North Kensington area of the borough is the world-famous Portobello Market.
10 THINGS TO KNOW & TO SEE IN KENSINGTON
1. The name Royal Borough derives from the fact that Kensington is historically home to major London residences of members of the royal family. The most notable of them is Kensington Palace. Originally the residence of the Earl of Nottingham, it was bought in 1689 by William III who hired Cristopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral, to restructure it. Kensington Palace apartments have been open to the public since 1975.
2. Some paintings from the Queen's private collection are housed in Kensington Palace's King William's Gallery.
3. Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace, and lived there when she was a princess. Her toys and other personal memorabilia are still on display there. The Cupola Room is where Victoria was christened.
Kensington Palace was also home to the late princess of Wales, Diana, until her death in 1997.
4. Kensington Gardens, divided from Hyde Park only by the Serpentine Lake, were once part of the grounds belonging to Kensington Palace but, like many other London royal parks, are now open to the public. In them the Orangery, containing numerous statues, is particularly worth seeing, as well as an Italian garden and Peter Pan statue, the eponymous hero of Barrie's fairy tale.
5. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens together constitute the largest open space in central London, with a perimeter of 6 kilometres. The Serpentine Lake, measuring 16 hectares, is the border between them. It was created by a dam on the river West Bourne, and it's home to many ducks and other aquatic birds. Some intrepid swimmers are undeterred by any cold weather, and they dive into it every morning, even if in order to do so they have to break the ice on the surface of the lake.
6. Within the Kensington Gardens is the Albert Memorial, an elaborate monument to Albert, the prince consort of queen Victoria, built between 1863 and 1876. The gilded bronze statue represents the prince under an ornate arch, holding a catalogue of the Great Exhibition. It was the prince, in fact, who inspired in 1851 that exhibition of British engineering, art and craftsmanship. Part of the proceedings from the event were used to build the nearby Museum (see n. 8).
7. The Albert Memorial is in front of the Royal Albert Hall, an oval amphitheatre covered by a glass dome, where musical performances are held, including the annual Proms, a famous series of classical concerts, and various pop concerts. Completed in 1861, the Hall sits up to 6,000 people. Its famous organ has almost 10,000 pipes.
8. The Victoria and Albert Museum houses a national collection of both fine arts and applied arts. Above the main entrance, which is in Cromwell Road, are the statues of queen Victoria and prince Albert. The Museum contains over 17 miles (11 kilometres) of galleries, and exhibits ranging from the Great Bed of Ware, a four-poster bed from the 1500s, to the Canning Jewel, a salamander in gold and precious stones, brought by Lord Canning from India after the 1857-59 mutiny.
The Museum is a vast gathering of treasures of art and craftsmanship from every time and every culture.
9. The Science Museum's working models, which visitors can study and touch, bring science to life. In the Museum, scientific discoveries are displayed and the evolution of technology from its origins to the present day is illustrated.
Its purpose it to make engineering, technology, rail transport, industry, astronomy, and so on, fun.
There is a children's gallery. Hands-on exhibits teach basic science without appearing to teach.
It's in Exhibition Road, SW7.
Tel. +44 (0)20 938 9000
Nearest Tubes: South Kensington, High Street Kensington, Gloucester Road.
10. The Natural History Museum covers botany (study of plants), entomology (study of insects), mineralogy, paleontology (study of fossils), and zoology (study of animals), through exhibits ranging from enormous dinosaurs to microscopic creatures.