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Tower of London

Tower of London

The massive White Tower is a typical example of Norman military architecture, whose influence was felt throughout the kingdom. It was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror to protect London and assert his power. The Tower of London – an imposing fortress with many layers of history, which has become one of the symbols of royalty – was built around the White Tower.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Tour de Londres

La massive tour Blanche, archétype de l'architecture militaire normande, qui exerça son influence dans tout le royaume, fut construite au bord de la Tamise par Guillaume le Conquérant pour protéger la ville de Londres et affirmer son pouvoir. Autour d'elle s'est développée la Tour de Londres, imposante forteresse riche de souvenirs historiques et devenue l'un des symboles de la monarchie.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

برج لندن

تم بناء هذا البرج الأبيض الضخم الذي يجسد نموذجاً مثالياً للهندسة العسكرية النورماندية والذي مارس تأثيراً هاماً في مجمل انحاء المملكة على ضفاف نهر التايمس على يد غليوم الغازي بهدف حماية مدينة لندن واثبات سلطته. وقد نشأ حول هذا البناء برج لندن وهو قلعة مهيبة تزخر بالذكريات التاريخية وتجسد رمزاً للملكية.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Лондонский Тауэр

Массивная Белая башня (White Tower) – это типичный образец норманнской военной архитектуры, чье влияние ощущается по всей территории королевства. Она была построена Вильгельмом Завоевателем на Темзе как выражение его власти. Лондонский Тауэр – внушительная крепость с богатейшей историей. Построенная вокруг Белой башни стена стала одним из символов страны.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Torre de Londres

Imponente fortaleza cargada de historia, la Torre de Londres se convirtió con el tiempo en uno de los símbolos más importantes de la monarquía británica. Fue construida en torno a la Torre Blanca, erigida por Guillermo el Conquistador a orillas del Támesis para proteger Londres y consolidar su poder. Esta última edificación, modelo ejemplar de la arquitectura militar normanda, ejerció una gran influencia en las construcciones defensivas de todo el reino.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Tower of London

De massieve Witte Toren is een typisch voorbeeld van Normandische militaire architectuur. Willem de Veroveraar bouwde de toren aan de Theems om Londen te beschermen en om zijn macht te doen gelden. De Tower of Londen - een imposante vesting met een rijke geschiedenis en geworden tot koninklijk symbool - werd gebouwd rondom de Witte Toren. De iconische toren heeft een grote rol gespeeld bij de bevordering van nauwere banden met Europa. Ook had de toren grote invloed op de Engelse taal en cultuur en op het creëren van een van de machtigste monarchieën in Europa.

Source: unesco.nl

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis 

The Tower of London is an internationally famous monument and one of England’s most iconic structures. William the Conqueror built the White Tower in 1066 as a demonstration of Norman power, siting it strategically on the River Thames to act as both fortress and gateway to the capital. It is the most complete example of an 11th century fortress palace remaining in Europe. A rare survival of a continuously developing ensemble of royal buildings, from the 11th to 16th centuries, the Tower of London has become one of the symbols of royalty. It also fostered the development of several of England’s major State institutions, incorporating such fundamental roles as the nation’s defence, its record-keeping and its coinage. It has been the setting for key historical events in European history, including the execution of three English queens.

The Tower of London has Outstanding Universal Value for the following cultural qualities:

For both protection and control of the City of London, it has a landmark siting. As the gateway to the capital, the Tower was in effect the gateway to the new Norman kingdom. Sited strategically at a bend in the River Thames, it has been a crucial demarcation point between the power of the developing City of London, and the power of the monarchy. It had the dual role of providing protection for the City through its defensive structure and the provision of a garrison, and of also controlling the citizens by the same means. The Tower literally ‘towered’ over its surroundings until the 19th century.

The Tower of London was built as a demonstration and symbol of Norman power. The Tower represents more than any other structure the far-reaching significance of the mid-11th century Norman Conquest of England, for the impact it had on fostering closer ties with Europe, on English language and culture, and in creating one of the most powerful monarchies in Europe. The Tower has an iconic role as reflecting the last military conquest of England.

The property is an outstanding example of late 11th century innovative Norman military architecture. As the most complete survival of an 11th-century fortress palace remaining in Europe, the White Tower, and its later 13th and 14th century additions, belong to a series of edifices which were at the cutting edge of military building technology internationally. They represent the apogee of a type of sophisticated castle design, which originated in Normandy and spread through Norman lands to England and Wales.

The property is a model example of a medieval fortress palace, which evolved from the 11th to 16th centuries. The additions of Henry III and Edward I, and particularly the highly innovative development of the palace within the fortress, made the Tower into one of the most innovative and influential castle sites in Europe in the 13th and early 14th centuries, and much of their work survives. Palace buildings were added to the royal complex right up until the 16th century, although few now stand above ground. The survival of palace buildings at the Tower allows a rare glimpse into the life of a medieval monarch within their fortress walls. The Tower of London is a rare survival of a continuously developing ensemble of royal buildings, evolving from the 11th to the 16th centuries, and as such, has great significance nationally and internationally.

The property has strong associations with State Institutions. The continuous use of the Tower by successive monarchs fostered the development of several major State Institutions. These incorporated such fundamental roles as the nation’s defence, its records, and its coinage. From the late 13th century, the Tower was a major repository for official documents, and precious goods owned by the Crown. The presence of the Crown Jewels, kept at the Tower since the 17th century, is a reminder of the fortress’ role as a repository for the Royal Wardrobe.

As the setting for key historical events in European history: The Tower has been the setting for some of the most momentous events in European and British History. Its role as a stage upon which history has been enacted is one of the key elements which has contributed towards the Tower’s status as an iconic structure. Arguably, the most important building of the Norman Conquest, the White Tower symbolised the might and longevity of the new order. The imprisonments in the Tower of Edward V and his younger brother in the 15th century, and then, in the 16th century, of four English queens, three of them executed on Tower Green – Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey – with only Elizabeth I escaping, shaped English history. The Tower also helped shape the story of the Reformation in England, as both Catholic and Protestant prisoners (those that survived) recorded their experiences and helped define the Tower as a place of torture and execution.

Criterion (ii): A monument symbolic of royal power since the time of William the Conqueror, the Tower of London has served as an outstanding model throughout the kingdom since the end of the 11th century. Like it, many keeps were built in stone, e.g. Colchester, Rochester, Hedingham, Norwich or Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

Criterion (iv): The White Tower is the example par excellence of the royal Norman castle from the late 11th century. The ensemble of the Tower of London is a major reference for the history of medieval military architecture. 


All the key Norman and later buildings, surrounded by their defensive wall and moat, are within the property boundary. There are few threats to the property itself, but the areas immediately beyond the moat and the wider setting of the Tower, an ensemble that was created to dominate its surroundings, have been eroded.

The Tower’s landmark siting and visual dominance on the edge of the River Thames, and the impression of great height it once gave, all key aspects of its significance, have to some extent been eroded by tall new buildings in the eastern part of the City of London, some of which predate inscription. Some of these have, to a degree, had an adverse impact on the views into, within and out of the property.

The Tower’s physical relationship to both the River Thames and the City of London, as fortress and gateway to the capital, and its immediate and wider setting, including long views, will continue to be threatened by proposals for new development that is inappropriate to the context. Such development could limit the ability to perceive the Tower as being slightly apart from the City, or have an adverse impact on its skyline as viewed from the river.


The role of the White Tower as a symbol of Norman power is evident in its massive masonry. It remains, with limited later change, as both an outstanding example of innovative Norman architecture and the most complete survival of a late 11th century fortress palace in Europe. Much of the work of Henry III and Edward I, whose additions made the Tower into a model example of a concentric medieval fortress in the 13th and early 14th centuries, survives. The Tower’s association with the development of State institutions, although no longer evident in the physical fabric, is maintained through tradition, documentary records, interpretative material, and the presence of associated artefacts, for example, armour and weaponry displayed by the Royal Armouries. The Tower also retains its original relationship with the surrounding physical elements – the scaffold site, the Prisoners’ or Water Gate, the dungeons — that provided the stage for key events in European history, even though the wider context, beyond the moat, has changed.

Its form, design and materials remain intact and legible as at the time of inscription, accepting the fact that extensive restoration had been undertaken during the 19th century by Anthony Salvin in a campaign to ‘re-medievalise’ the fortress. The Tower is no longer in use as a fortress, but its fabric still clearly tells the story of the use and function of the monument over the centuries. The fabric also continues to demonstrate the traditions and techniques that were involved in its construction. The ability of the Tower to reflect its strategic siting and historic relationship to the City of London is vulnerable to proposals for development that do not respect its context and setting.

Protection and management requirements

The UK Government protects World Heritage properties in England in two ways. Firstly, monuments, individual buildings and conservation areas are designated under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and secondly, through the UK Spatial Planning system under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. The property is protected as a scheduled ancient monument and buildings within it are protected as statutorily listed buildings.

Government guidance on protecting the historic environment and World Heritage is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and Circular 07/09. Policies to protect, promote, conserve and enhance World Heritage properties, their settings and buffer zones are also found in statutory planning documents.

The Mayor’s London Plan provides a strategic social, economic, transport and environmental framework for London and its future development over 20-25 years. It contains policies to protect and enhance the historic environment in general and World Heritage properties in particular. The London View Management Framework Supplementary Planning Guidance published by the Mayor protects important designated views, including a protected view of the Tower of London from the south bank of the River Thames. Locally, the Tower of London falls within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and is adjoined by the City of London and the London Borough of Southwark. Each of these local planning authorities has an emerging Local Development Plan, which provide a framework of policies to protect and promote the Tower of London World Heritage property.

The Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan is reviewed regularly. Its implementation is integrated into the activities of Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity responsible for caring for the Tower of London. The Tower of London World Heritage Site Consultative Committee, a group consisting of on-site partners, local authorities and heritage specialists, monitors implementation and review of the plan and provides a forum for consultation on issues affecting the Tower of London and its environs.

The most significant challenges to the property lie in managing the environs of the Tower of London so as to protect its Outstanding Universal Value and setting. At a strategic level, these challenges are recognised in the London Plan and the Boroughs’ emerging Local Plans. These documents set out a strategic framework of policies aimed at conserving, protecting and enhancing the Outstanding Universal Value of the Tower and its setting. The challenges are also identified in the World Heritage Site Management Plan, which defines the local setting of the Tower and key views within and from it. Objectives in the Plan to address the challenges are being implemented (for example, through a local setting study that informed understanding of the immediate setting of the property, and through work on the property’s attributes), although pressures remain significant, particularly in the wider setting. Discussions take place as part of the Management Plan review regarding how best to ensure continued protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and its setting.

Other challenges include pressures on funding. However, Historic Royal Palaces has put in place robust measures to ensure that the Tower of London is properly protected, interpreted and conserved in accordance with its key charitable objectives. These measures include long-term conservation plans, prioritised and funded according to conservation needs, and cyclical maintenance plans. Plans for the visitor experience respond to the Historic Royal Palaces’ Cause — to help everyone explore the stories of the palaces — and are subject to rigorous evaluation. All plans are regularly monitored and reviewed.