1. In the year 55 before our era a Roman legion headed by Julius Cesar crossed the English Channel that divides the British Isles from the continent of Europe. Having landed in Britain the Romans founded a military station on the northern bank of the river Thames. Being skilled in the art of building they started fortifying their settlements with thick massive walls and laying roads across the country leading to the sea coast. After staying in Britain for two centuries the Romans returned to the continent having left behind excellent roads and strong fortifications. One of the Roman settlements was called Londinium Augusta. Four centuries later, according to some historians, the capital of Britain was founded in its locality, part of the Roman wall still lying deep under the ground beneath modern London.
2. No other ancient monuments of Roman times have remained in the city. The earliest historical monument of English architecture is the so called Tower of London which has retained its name up to the present day. Being erected on the ruins of a Roman fortress, it consists of parts belonging to different periods of English history, its central and most ancient part being the huge square tower four storeys high. It was called the White Tower, deriving its name from the white stone it was built of. The White Tower was surrounded with a double row of walls with smaller towers forming the inner and outer court with the scaffold in the back of it.
3. Nine centuries have passed since its erection, but time failed to destroy the enormous thickness of its walls or shake the solidity of its construction. In spite of constant alterations and repairs during the ages of its existence the tower has retained much of its former character and original appearance. Flowing past the gloomy structure the dark waters of the Thames reflects its enormous walls and square towers as they had reflected them in the eleventh century.
4. Looking at the Tower you feel its close connection to the historical past of England with its constant and cruel fighting for power. Since the time of its erection the Tower of London has served many purposes: first a king's palace, then a fortress and a political prison. Now it is a museum.
5. Several kings of England found protection within its walls both against foreign enemies and their own people fighting for their liberties and privileges. The White Tower was the royal residence, all the kings of England spending the first days of their reign there according to an ancient custom. From the While Tower kings went to their coronation and out of it some of them came down to the scaffold lying in the outer court, forced to surrender their power to new pretenders.
6. All the towers in the walls surrounding the White Tower served as places of imprisonment, each of them keeping some dark and tragic secret. Narrow galleries, steep staircases, secret passages and dark cells formed in the thickness of the walls exist up to the present day. Among the numerous prisoners were kings of England, France and Scotland, princes and noblemen, Protestants, and Catholics, scientists and public leaders. Shakespeare mentioned many of their names describing their tragic fate in his historical plays. Standing in the heart of modern London the Tower reminds Londoners of many historical events that took place in their country.