Area Guide:

Old London, the Square Mile, the City all refer to the original settled area on the River Thames once ruled by the Romans and now largely known as the financial district, but still imbued with the mystique of the ages. The 11thcentury Tower of London was William the Conqueror's declaration of triumph; St Paul's Cathedral a signal of rebirth after the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666, and a symbol of strength during the Second World War.

The City is rife with history and the characters of history - Chaucer was born here and Shakespeare flourished here and nowhere is the fabric of history more tangible than in the architecture. The oldest, smallest, quirkiest streets (matched by pubs that have stood for centuries) are set off by the span of bridges and a profusion of 18th century churches and buildings once threatened with demolition are being saved as part of an ongoing revitalisation process.

One of the most successful centres of this civic rejuvenation lies just north of the Square Mile next to Liverpool Street station in an area known as Shoreditch. Once a wasteland of dis-used light industrial buildings, it has progressed from arty bohemian village to almost upscale status. Artists still occupy many of the loft spaces, as do galleries and design-label boutiques featuring local talent. The presence of the White Cube gallery in Hoxton Square helps to maintain the area's artistic profile which may have lost much of its edginess but none of its edge - innovation and trends still start here.

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