Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Marble Arch - London

Marble Arch

This photo of Marble Arch in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the PanoramicEarth.com Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Marble Arch is found in the centre of a very busy road system at the north end of Hyde Park where Park Lane meets Oxford Street. Fortunately a series of subways allows safe access to the area for those wishing to take a closer look. However, it must be said, Marble Arch is not exactly in a quiet place, and the buzz of traffic is constant. This photograph of Marble Arch was taken from the paved area in front of the Arch which is lined with various national flags.

Marble Arch started off life as a triumphal arch situated in front of Buckingham Palace on The Mall at the opposite end to Admiralty Arch. It was designed by John Nash in 1828 (who also worked on The Regents Park), based on the Arch of Titus in Rome. In 1851 Marble Arch was moved from in front of Buckingham Palace to the current location during the building of the East Front section of the Palace. The Ionic Arch in Hyde Park Corner (by Decimus Burton) was built at the same time that Marble Arch was moved, forming a balancing pair on either side of the park.

Marble Arch is made of white marble from Carraca in Tuscany. Inside Marble Arch are 3 small rooms which were used by the police until 1950. One such constable of the 1800’s was Samuel Parkes who was awarded the Victoria Cross after the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. There are 2 small outer arches and a large central arch. Only senior members of the royal family, the King’s Troop and the Royal Horse Artillery are allowed to ride or drive through the central Arch.

The location of Marble Arch is quite close to the location of the Tyburn Gallows, a place of execution used from 1196 to 1783. The three legged gallows once saw 24 people hanged at the same time. More recently the area was home to the largest cinema screen in London. The Odeon Marble Arch showed 70mm films on a screen 18m wide. This has now been converted to a multiplex. Sometimes in the winter a temporary ice ring is opended to the public in the square by Marble Arch.

The nearest tube station to Marble Arch is aptly called Marble Arch, located at the end of Oxford Street. Very close by are Hyde Park and Speakers Corner, where any member of the public is permitted to talk about any subject without fear of hanging. It is quite packed on Sundays where noisy debate and heckling can be found, mostly about politics, war and religion.

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The full panoramic image taken of Marble Arch can be found on the London tour by PanoramicEarth.com. An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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