Barbican

While thinking of more places in London to write posts about, I suddenly remember about Barbican, where I’ve only been once to see the Hamlet performance with Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican Centre. I remember I really liked the place, so here I come again! As I exit the Barbican tube station, there are two ways to get to the Barbican Centre: via a normal road and via a highwalk, which there is quite a few of around the Barbican Estate.

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Looking down from both sides of the highwalk footbridge, I see the busy Aldersgate Street.

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The Barbican Estate is basically a residential development, and although it looks very new, it actually was constructed around the 1960-1970’s . I think, I am going to include it in my ‘dream list’ of residential estates where I’d like to live.

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I am not sure if the Barbican Centre is part of this estate or not, but in any case it is here too. It’s the largest performing arts centre in Europe with a concert hall, theatres, cinema screens, an art gallery, a library and a conservatory.

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Right here there is also a nameless (and probably artificial) lake with a big terrace.

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I never ever feature pigeons in my pictures, as I find them really disgusting, but it’s the first time that I see them sitting (or lying) on the ground.

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If I didn’t know this was in London, I’d probably think this was somewhere in Dubai. And anyway, palm trees in London are not a very common sight.

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Across the lake there is the St Giles Cripplegate church and the City of London School for Girls.

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Here is how the lakeside terrace looks from the other side. That café on the right comes in really handy when you need to grab a quick bite before a concert or a theatre performance. I think, there are a couple more around.

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I am still walking around the area on the above-ground level. Those walkways almost form a labyrinth, as it’s sometimes hard to figure out where they lead to. There are also mostly empty, which feels slightly weird.

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That is the moment when I learn that the Barbican Centre has been around for more than forty years already. I would have never thought!

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Once again, the same view over the lakeside terrace. I really love how these residential buildings have flowers on almost each and every balcony.

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The St Giles Cripplegate church, oddly enough, is officially called St Giles-without-Cripplegate. My initial explanation for this strange name is that this is because the original gate does not exist anymore, as the whole area was destroyed by the Blitz during WWII. However, the actual explanation is that historically the area around Cripplegate was divided into “within” and “without” parts, the church obviously being in the latter. By the way, the church is one of the few medieval ones that remain in the City, having survived both the Great Fire and the Blitz.

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That part of the waterside area is, I think, strictly residential, so I can only observe it from the highwalk.

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Here is another empty highwalk for you.

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And one more, which already starts looking like part of a bank. It means that I’m slowly moving from the arty part of the City to the more familiar financial part.

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I must be looking over Wood Street, as I see the Church of St Alban, which unlike the previously mentioned St Giles, was destroyed both by the Great Fire (and rebuilt) and the Blitz. That tower is the only remaining part.

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The combination of gothic architecture and glass towers – what a typical City view!

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I mentioned already in my actual post about the City that there seem to be more churches here than in any other district. Most of those churches are the heritage of Sir Christopher Wren, like St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall in the picture, which has been rebuilt to his designs after the Great Fire destroyed it.

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The original St Lawrence church was built in the 12th century and next to it was a former medieval Jewish ghetto on the Old Jewry street, hence the name of the church.

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Right in front of the church there is a little pond with fish and water lilies.

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I am now on Gresham Street and suddenly this particular view reminds me very much of my home town Baku.

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Not so much from this angle, though.

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This is just a random window of some bakery, displaying these mouthwatering muffins and viennoiserie.

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That fancy building on the right is the Bank of England. I already mentioned how fascinating I find the architecture of the City, specifically because it’s a very harmonious combination of the old and the new, and not simply a concrete jungle like Canary Wharf (which I, however, also like very much).

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As I am approaching the Bank station (interlinked with the Monument station, which I’m going to take the tube from, yet I prefer walking to Monument on the ground), there is more interesting architecture. Who would think, for example, that this building simply hosts serviced executive offices?

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And this is the building of The Royal Exchange which was founded in the 16th century by the merchant Thomas Gresham. One would logically assume that this is his statue right next to it, but no, it’s actually that of James Henry Greathead, who was the chief engineer of the City railway.

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