Guildhall’s underground Roman amphitheatre
When the City of London starting making plans to construct an art gallery for the old Guildhall building, architects uncovered a huge underground area which was identified as the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre. Once used for all kinds of grizzly and brutal public entertainment such as fights and executions, classic battles have been revived in recent years with London’s Gladiator Games. Professional gladiators duke it out before an emperor, and the crowd decides which warrior gets to walk free at the end.
Known to locals as Neasden Temple, the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir rises serenely above the suburban houses that line the North Circular. The first traditional Hindu temple to be built in Europe, the Mandir is also the largest outside India. Designed by architect CB Sompura and with a construction cost of £12m, this is a relatively new building, having been completed in 1995. Free to visit, it’s possible to take a tour, too, which includes lunch as well as transport to and from central London.
The Roof Gardens
Towering above the hustle and bustle of Kensington High Street are the Roof Gardens, a 1.5-acre man-made haven of fruit trees, rosebushes, oaks and evergreen shrubs. Free to visit during the day, the gardens can also be hired for private events, and in the evening you can head to the onsite nightclub, imaginatively titled “The Club”, or fine dine with fantastic views of the city below.
It may surprise you to know that the capital has any windmills at all, but there are actually at least six in existence. Brixton Windmill – or to give it its official name, Ashby’s Mill – has been around since 1816, but stopped operating in 1934. It has four sails – two common sails and two patent sails, and used to supply wholemeal flour to West End hotels and restaurants. Following a restoration project which was completed in 2011 it is now open to the public, and this year it celebrates its 200th birthday.
The fake 10 Downing Street
You’re unlikely to get close to the Prime Minister’s residence without an official invite from Theresa May, but 10 Adam Street is the next best thing. Situated just off The Strand, Adam Street is home to a number of offices to support European freelancers and entrepreneurs in need of desk space. Its façade is a dead ringer for 10 Downing Street, and probably the closest you’ll get to a photo op outside the famous black door and the corridors of power.