No matter where you are when you first see it, Tower Bridge will amaze you.
The two neo-Gothic towers rising on either side of the Thames give London its iconic river crossing, with a lifting road section.
Today, Tower Bridge is run by electronically and lifts approximately 800 times a year (once every 10 hours throughout the summer).
The best spot to see the Tower Bridge raised is at the 11m-long glass walkways of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, 42m above the river.
Here, views of London plunge into the Thames, outshining even the story of bridge’s construction itself which is recounted here.
Tower Bridge Exhibition
The inner workings of Tower Bridge can’t compete with its stunning exterior, but this geeky exhibit strives to bridge the gap with information on the building and access to the magnificent Victorian engine rooms that raised the bascules in the past.
The exhibition begins with archival footage of the bridge lifting for the first time ever, and girders in the South Tower demonstrate the bridge’s initial lackluster paint job in chocolate-brown.
The best features are the panoramic views from the upper walkways and walking on see-through floors above the River Thames.
Construction on Tower Bridge began in the 1880s, when London was a booming port city and there was an urgent need for another crossing point in the east.
The bridge, designed by Horace Jones with John Wolfe Barry as engineer, was constructed exclusively from British materials like Glaswegian steel and Cornish granite.
Unfortunately, Jones didn’t get to see the bridge completed; he passed away in 1887–right when construction started.
The city’s most easterly bridge was completed in 1894, when it was draped with curved suspension struts.
The bridge’s bascule mechanism, which was at the time revolutionary because it used steam to drive it, could raise the road in three minutes for ships to pass underneath after completion.
You can book online tickets to Tower Bridge Exhibition 50 minutes before your planned visit. This will grant you access to the Towers, Glass Floor, West Walkway and Engine Rooms.
Guided tours that cost more and offer behind-the-scenes looks are only available on weekends.
The site can be fully accessed by wheelchair users.
How to get to Tower Bridge
The nearest Underground station is Tower Hill, on the Circle and District Lines, which is about a 10-minute walk away. The Tower Gateway DLR stop is located just up the hill.
What is Tower Bridge famous for?
Tower Bridge is famous for it’s neo-gothic design. It’s rated as one of the best bridges in the UK and one of the world’s most advanced bascule bridges.
Is Tower Bridge and London Bridge the same?
Tower Bridge and London Bridge are different bridges. Although many get confused between the neighbours, visually the bridges look very different.
Does Tower Bridge still lift up?
Yes the bridge does lift up. On average it lifts up around 800 times per year or around 10-20 times per day.
Is Tower Bridge open to the public?
Tower Bridge is open to the public. The paid exhibition allows you to access the engine rooms and the walkway above the tower.