Most visitors -- and even some residents -- are not aware that modern London is actually composed of two cities, as well as 31 regional boroughs. The two cities are those of Westminster, which contains many familiar tourist destinations such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, as well as consumer heavens such as Soho, Oxford Street and Covent Garden.

The City of London -- more commonly referred to simply as "the City" -- is a different beast altogether. This is the powerhouse of the British economy and the financial centre of Europe: only Wall Street is more important in world economic terms. The City comprises pretty much the area that was once surrounded by the old Roman and Medieval city walls which is a comparatively small geographic area, a fact indicated by its other nickname "The Square Mile".

But what a square mile. The main streets still follow the routes set out by the Romans 2000 years ago, and although the old city walls are long gone, it's still possible to view their approximate positions on any map. Relics of the area's antiquity crop up all over the place: from the Roman temple of Mithras and remains of the amphitheatre, through to the names of the streets which often reflect their Medieval usages. The other giveaway that this was once a walled city comes from the names of the streets close to where the old city gates once were: we still have Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Moorgate, Newgate, Ludgate and Aldersgate.

The City was once dominated by the St. Paul's Cathedral. Before the fire there were at least two earlier cathedrals on this site, and it's likely that there has been a church here since the early days of Roman Christianity. The current St. Paul's, crowned by Wren's amazing dome, is as much a symbol of London as any other landmark and until the 20th Century it was visible from throughout the City and beyond.

Much of the City was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, and many of the buildings that survived that were flattened in the blitz. Even so, many old buildings survived and they often sit side-by-side with modern steel and glass skyscrapers which represent the physical side of the trillions of pounds which get traded every day in the banks and stock markets here.

Personally as a Londoner I've always found the City a much more fascinating place than the West End. Although "up west" you get the neon lights and nightlife, to me the City represents the true historical London. Every day when I walk from Liverpool Street station to my job near Leadenhall Market I remind myself that I'm walking down streets which were first laid out 2000 years ago, and down which countless millions of people have travelled over the years. And with the convoluted little alleyways and fascinating street names -- who could not be interested in finding out the history of somewhere called Seething Lane, Poultry or Old Jewry, to give three examples -- I think there's always something new to discover in the City.

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