Can You Go Inside Big Ben – What You Need To Know

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Can You Go Inside Big Ben

Many tourists visiting London ask, can you go inside big ben? The clock is one of the most iconic landmarks in London, drawing millions of visitors every year. It may be one of the world’s most famous and photographed clocks.

But with the thousands of photos snapped daily, almost none are of the real Big Ben. Most people don’t know Big Ben is the bell hanging inside the clock tower.

If you’re planning a trip to London and want to experience this city’s rich history and culture, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are a must-visit.

Big Ben, a masterpiece of architectural brilliance, has captivated people’s imaginations worldwide. But the burning question remains, can you go inside Big Ben?

Well, it depends. The tour up the clock tower to Big Ben is usually reserved for only British citizens. More so, they have to be given person by some in parliament. Very few Americans have ever climbed the big ben.

An Overview Of The Big Ben And Elizabeth Tower

Before the construction of the iconic Elizabeth Tower, a clock tower already stood at the location of the Houses of Parliament. 

Many people are unaware of this fact, but it is a fascinating part of the history of Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower. 

Although there are no records of the first clock tower built on the site in the 1290s, it is believed to have existed. 1367 a clock tower was erected, which may have replaced the original one. 

1698 the medieval clock tower was demolished and replaced with a sundial. By 1699, the clock tower had fallen into disrepair, and its bell, intended for St. Paul’s Cathedral, broke during transportation. 

However, in 1716, the bell was recast and placed in the South West Tower of St. Paul’s, ready to ring if Big Ben’s bell ever failed. The Palace of Westminster housed the clock tower and suffered a major fire in 1834. 

And the reconstruction efforts led by architect Charles Barry began in 1840. Barry’s vision for the new palace included a clock tower, and he commissioned Augustus Welby Pugin to bring the Gothic Revival style to life. 

Construction work commenced in 1843. To determine the clock’s builder, a competition was held in 1846, and John Dent was appointed to bring the designs of Edmund Beckett Denison to fruition. 

And in 1852, the clock tower was completed, coinciding with the opening of the New Palace of Westminster by Queen Victoria. 

The year 1854 witnessed the completion of the clock mechanism, and in 1856, the first “Big Ben” bell was cast. However, it soon developed a crack during testing, leading to the casting of a second bell in 1858. 

The Great Clock started ticking on May 31, 1859, and Big Ben’s chimes echoed for the first time on July 11. 

During World War II, blackout regulations enforced darkness upon the clock dial from 1939 to 1945, but they were re-illuminated after the war.

In 1976, a mechanical failure caused severe damage to the Great Clock, rendering Big Ben silent for nearly nine months. 

However, repairs were completed for the bells to ring in Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in May 1977. To honour Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the Clock Tower has renamed the Elizabeth Tower. 

Then, in 2017, an extensive conservation project began to preserve the tower for future generations. Finally, in 2022, Big Ben returned to regular service, marking the completion of the conservation efforts.

Why Are The Non-Residents Not Allowed To Climb The Big Ben?

Up until recently, everyone was allowed to climb the big ben. However, in recent times, the famous clock tower has become off-limits to non-residents due to security concerns. 

Clearance checks for foreigners had become increasingly complex and costly to prevent terrorists from targeting the historic tower. And therefore, they decided to do away with all overseas visitors completely.

What Does The Big Ben Tour Entail?

Well, while it’s disappointing to many people not being able to climb the big ben, there’s nothing much they can do. 

It’s more of a renaissance of what Moses went through, being able to see the promised land but being able to reach there. 

For what’s worth, here is what Michael McCann, the Keeper of The Great Clock, has to say about the tour.

The tours are limited to 16 people and happen up to three times daily. Before beginning the 75-minute tour, you must go through strict security checks at the house. 

Armed police officers will supervise as you pass through a metal detector, and a camera takes a picture of your face before being issued a photo security pass.

The guide will take you through all the fascinating details and stories behind Big Ben. The tour culminates at the top of this iconic landmark, where you can marvel at the clock’s intricate mechanism and see the clock faces up close. 

Where Do You Have The Best View Of Big Ben?

Several vantage points offer breathtaking views for those who want to capture a picture-perfect moment with this masterpiece in the background. 

One of the best places to take a shot of Big Ben is Albert Embankment, opposite the River Thames bank. 

Another great spot is Westminster Bridge – a prime location for taking panoramic shots of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. 

Victoria Embankment Crossing Bridge Street is also a great location for capturing Big Ben in all its grandeur. You also have an excellent opportunity from Parliament Square to capture a close-up view of the bell tower.

What You Need To Know Before Visiting the Big Ben

  1. The Elizabeth Tower tour may not be suitable for individuals with limited mobility.
  2. Visitors with well-controlled asthma can join the tour, but they must carry a reliever inhaler just in case. 
  3. Open-toe sandals, flip-flops, high heels, and bare or stocking feet are not allowed during the tour for safety reasons.
  4. Climbing 334 spiral steps can be strenuous, so individuals with health conditions like vertigo, heart or respiratory issues are advised against taking the tour.
  5. Trained assistance dogs, like Guide Dogs, cannot accompany visitors on tour but can be left in the care of the staff at the tower’s base.
  6. The tour is not recommended for those in the later stages of pregnancy.
  7. Individuals with hearing or visual impairments and other special needs can usually be accommodated with prior communication to tailor the tour for a safe and enjoyable experience.
  8. Individuals who recently had a heart attack had heart surgery, suffer from palpitations, or have certain heart conditions should avoid climbing the stairs.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Inside The Big Ben?

Adult tickets cost £15, while families can purchase tickets for £37. Students can enter for £10, and children between the ages of five and 16 can purchase tickets for £6. However, if you’re travelling with children under five, they can enter for free.

How Loud Is The Big Ben?

Big Ben’s chimes can reach up to 118 decibels, louder than most construction and industrial equipment. 

To put this into perspective, a typical conversation is around 60 decibels, and anything above 85 decibels can cause hearing damage over time. Therefore, it’s no surprise you can hear the bell 5 miles away.

Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Big Ben

  1. The London tower that most people call Big Ben is called the Elizabeth Tower. Formerly known as the Great Clock Tower, the name was changed to honour Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
  2. Elizabeth Tower sways slightly towards the northwest, similar to the leaning Tower of Pisa. The tilt measures about 0.22 meters, which results in an inclination of about 1/250. If you observe the tower continuously for about 20 minutes, you may notice it.
  3. Have you ever noticed the Latin words inscribed beneath clock faces and wondered what they meant? The phrase reads from left to right as, “Domine salvam fac reginam nostram Victoriam Primam,” which translates to “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.”
  4. The Elizabeth Tower houses a prison room used to imprison Members of Parliament who misbehaved. The prison room is 114 steps up the tower. 

Its last known use was in 1880 when Charles Bradlaugh, an atheist MP, refused to swear allegiance to the Crown on the Bible. Bradlaugh was released after spending only one night in prison.


Can you go inside the Big Ben? Sorry, it’s only for British residents. However, overseas visitors can still admire the stunning architecture and take pictures of the clock tower from the outside. 

Additionally, plenty of other attractions are located nearby, such as the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, which are also worth visiting.

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Susan Tapia is an ambitious, savvy news writer with a vibrant personality and an eye for detail. She is highly experienced in crafting compelling stories and dedicated to seeking out the truth. With her inquisitive nature, she delves deep into every subject she touches, uncovering unexpected facts that help her engage her readers. Susan has an unbridled passion for writing, and she strives to inspire others through her work. She confidently shares her thought-provoking ideas with enthusiasm and candor, making sure the world can see the truth no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Simply put, Susan Tapia is a trailblazer in the journalism industry who never fails to deliver her readers riveting stories they won't soon forget.

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