London boasts no shortage of instantly recognizable icons. Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Camden Market, the Tube – each of these have been quintessentially London for a long time. In recent years, the London Eye has also become one of those icons and is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. In fact, it receives more visitors in an average year than the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids in Giza! During your next trip to London, make sure you set aside time to view the splendor of the British capital from the heights of the Eye!
“Europe’s Tallest Cantilevered Observation Wheel”
The London Eye was designed by Julia Barfield and David Marks of Marks Barfield Architects in 1999 as a special way to mark the turning of the Millennium in London. It was originally only meant to be temporary – the initial agreement with Lambeth Council gave it a five-year term at its location on the banks of the Thames. However, the London Eye proved so popular that it was granted a permanent license in 2002.
While one might be tempted to call it a Ferris wheel, technically its design makes it a “cantilevered observation wheel”. What’s the difference? The most noticeable difference is the location of the carriages. Ferris wheel carriages hang low, as they are subject to gravity – while those of a cantilevered observation wheel stick out from the outside of the wheel during the entirety of the rotation.
Fun Facts About the London Eye
- The London Eye is the second big wheel in London’s history. The first was the Great Wheel, which was constructed in Earls Court for the Empire of India Exhibition in 1895. That Ferris wheel stayed open until 1906.
- There are 32 observation capsules on the London Eye – one for each of the 32 boroughs of the city. The second capsule was renamed the Coronation Capsule in 2013 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
- One rotation of the Eye takes about 30 minutes, making the speed of the rotation about .6 miles per hour. It’s slow enough that the Eye does not need to stop for passenger boarding/disembarking!
- In one year, the London Eye rotates 2,300 miles – the same as the distance from London to Cairo.
- On a clear day, you can see as far as Windsor Castle, located about 25 miles from the Eye’s location!
Explore the World with AESU!
Are you ready to plan an adventure of a lifetime? AESU offers unique, thrilling travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group.
2022 tour dates are now available! If you have any questions or want help booking your next adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640, or fill out the contact form found on our website. Follow AESU on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.