London England landmarks
Queen Mary imprisoned Elizabeth I in the Tower of London in 1554. (Photo: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images )
Little today remains of the London that Elizabeth I knew during her life from 1533 to 1603. The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed much of the medieval city, and German bombs destroyed more during the Blitz. But historic buildings do remain dotted around the city, and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre offers a present-day link with Elizabeth's era.
Tower of London
Elizabeth's first visit to the Tower of London was not a happy one. Her half-sister, Queen Mary, sent her there as a prisoner in 1554 under suspicion of treacherous involvement in a rebellion led by Sir Thomas Wyatt, who lost his head over the affair. There was no real evidence that Elizabeth was active in the plot, and she was released after two months. She was crowned queen herself in 1588, after Mary's death. Visit the Tower of London and you can still see Traitor's Gate, where Elizabeth entered after a barge journey along the Thames, and the Bell Tower, where she was imprisoned.
On the South Bank overlooking the Thames between Blackfriar's and Southwark bridges, Shakespeare's Globe is a faithful 20th-century recreation of the 17th-century theater where many of the bard's works were performed during his lifetime. Elizabeth would not have attended a public theater, but Shakespeare's company performed for the queen and her court on several occasions, so she was certainly familiar with his work. You can attend a play at the Globe and get a real flavor of what a theatrical production was like in 16th-century London.
There's no evidence that Queen Elizabeth visited Staple Inn in central London's Holborn, but it is one of the best examples the city has of a typically Elizabethan building. The site had a hall on it from at least Norman times, and the current building was built in 1580 as a home for the Society of Staple Inn, a lawyers group. A flying bomb damaged the hall in 1944, but the stained glass windows had been removed and the building was fully restored. The inn is not open to visitors, but you can walk through the passageway in the facade to a small courtyard garden within the building.
Hampton Court Palace
Elizabeth often spent time at Hampton Court Palace, which her father transformed into one of the most opulent of Europe's royal residences. She made only minor changes to the building during her reign, such as the addition of a private kitchen, which is now the Privy Kitchen Coffee Shop. It's not difficult to imagine following in her footsteps as you lose yourself in the grand maze that Henry laid out in the splendid palace gardens. Hampton Court Palace is on the banks of the Thames, 14 miles west of central London.