Iconic and intimidating, the White Tower is one of the oldest structures at the Tower of London.

The Tower of London has impressed—and terrified—people for nearly 1,000 years

Built to impress and terrify, the Tower was first a fortress in the 1070s and then evolved into a prison for enemies of the crown, including Anne Boleyn, the Nine Days' Queen, and Guy Fawkes.

Power of the Tower

Iconic and intimidating, the White Tower is one of the oldest structures at the Tower of London.
Leiva/Alamy/ACI

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London: How aptly the title states the major roles of this iconic structure. Rising next to the River Thames, it was once the largest nonecclesiastical building in England and a focus of power for each new monarch.

Over the centuries, the structure has been renovated, enlarged, and enhanced. As the architecture has changed, so has the Tower’s purpose. It’s been a fortress, a prison, and a palace. It’s served as the Royal Mint, displayed a menagerie of exotic animals, housed the crown jewels, and become the home of the six royal ravens, whose presence, tradition says, keeps the kingdom from falling.

(Queen Elizabeth II: A lifetime of devotion and service.)

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