THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
The Houses of Parliament constitute perhaps the most popular and widely spread image of London, known and recognized throughout the whole world. In this famous palace are also many meeting halls and various parliamentary offices.
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 can be visited by the public. The entrance is through the door located at the foot of Victoria Tower and next to the Royal Arch. Visitors start at the Royal Gallery and then go to the House of Lords. Here there is the historical Woolsack, where the Lord Chancellor takes his place to preside over the sittings. From here, visitors proceed towards the Central Corridor, crossing the Antechamber of the Lords. The historical frescos that decorate the walls of the Central Corridor are very interesting. Passing from here visitors arrive at the Antechamber of the Commons and then continue to the actual Commons itself.
At the end of the House of Commons is the Speaker’s Chair, on the right side of which the members of the parliamentary majority sit. The members of the groups that form the Opposition sit on the left, directly facing the Government benches.
Another interesting point in the Houses of Parliament is St. Stephen’s Hall, which is decorated with very valuable frescos. From St. Stephen’s Hall one reaches Westminster Hall. It is one of the oldest buildings in London.
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