London Bridge Quarter
By Viator, May 2012
The area has already caught the attention of city dwellers with the erection of two of London’s most innovative feats of architecture – The Shard and The Place – sprucing up the historic skyline. Both creations of famed architect Renzo Piano, the two buildings aim to squash the dreary reputation of London’s office blocks, with the mesmerizing mirrored glass façade of The Place (a 428,000 sq foot office block) and the glimmering tower of The Shard, designed to appear like a shard of glass piercing the horizon. The iconic Shard building is set to draw in the tourist masses when it opens up it’s highly anticipated observation deck early next year, offering the highest lookout point in London, as well as being the E.U.’s tallest man-made structure.
The Public Realm, a landscaped piazza running between The Shard and The Place, is a nod to London’s increasing environmental concerns and the area is a hotspot for local art installations, tucked in-between the sections of greenery and mature tree plantations. A new underground shopping mall is accessible from the plaza bringing with it all the big names in high street stores, but it’s the world famous Borough market, London’s largest food market, that really draws in the crowds. Visit between Thursday-Saturday for the biggest retail selection and bring an empty stomach, as there’s an array of free samples and delicious, reasonably priced meals and snacks on offer. Try an ostrich or kangaroo burger, work your way through the extensive cheese menu, sip on locally-brewed beers and munch on a fresh batch of chocolate fudge, then pop into local institution, the Monmouth Coffee Company, where the epic queues give a hint to how good the coffee is.
Despite the influx of trendy bars and top-end restaurants, the area’s historic roots are still firmly planted and there’s plenty of sightseeing to be done in the area. The London Dungeons are right nearby, a delightfully gruesome experience, offering a journey through the capital’s criminal past alongside a variety of underground rides, and it’s a short walk to the HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge where the famous Towers of London lie. And, of course, a visit to the London Bridge Quarter wouldn’t be complete without visiting the infamous bridge itself. The London Bridge Experience is a fun way to learn about the city’s rich history – an interactive journey through old London including, of course, the story of London’s most famous bridge.
Once the sun sets, the London Bridge Quarter comes alive, with office workers and tourists streaming into the area’s bars and restaurants – keep an eye out for those opening up inside The Shard, where the views are sure to be phenomenal. With a growing population of small theaters and live venues to boot, the London Bridge Quarter looks set to rival neighboring Southbank as the district of choice for trendy urbanites.
So thorough is the area’s redevelopment that even the trusty underground station is getting a makeover. An impressive new glass-roofed arrival hall is being constructed, so even if you’re just passing through, you’ll be able to do so in style.