Although it is one of the more recent additions to the array of tourist attractions available in London, the London Eye has become one of the most prominent attractions in the city. The London Eye is a massive Ferris Wheel which is located on the South Bank, right on the River Thames. The London Eye is still something referred to as the Millennium Wheel and over the years it has had a number of different names due to the sponsor of the wheel at the time.
The first official title of the Eye was the British Airways London Eye before being known as the Merlin Entertainments London Eye before changing to the EDF Energy London Eye. In the latter half of 2014, the official name of the wheel reverted to the London Eye but effective January 2015 changed to the Coca-Cola London Eye as they became the official corporate sponsor. No matter what title is given to the wheel, it is one of the most prominent features in London, dominating the skyline and bringing in a great number of tourists on a daily basis.
The structure of the London Eye stands at 135 metres/443 feet, and the wheel itself has a diameter of 120 metres/394 feet. When the London Eye was first put in place, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world but it has since been superseded by wheels in Nanchang, Singapore and Las Vegas. However, the London Eye is differentiated from the others by the fact that it is maintained by an A-Frame on just one side of the wheel which means that the wheel is often referred to being the “world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel”.
South Bank – View of the London Eye and historic County Hall building. Photo Credit: © Ursula Petula Barzey.
The London Eye is massive in popular culture
The London Eye is also the tallest wheel of its kind in Europe and provides one of the best views of London. There is competition from the Shard which holds a higher position than the wheel is able to obtain but the fact that the Wheel provides a number of viewpoints ensures it remains a huge attraction. In fact, with more than 3.5 million visitors paying for access to the wheel on an annual basis, the London Eye is cited as being the most popular London attraction that people pay to use. It is instantly recognisable and it is featured regularly in films and TV shows.
A close-up view of one of the London Eye wheel pods with the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben off in the distance. Photo Credit: ©Visit London.
The London Eye is easily reached
The London Eye connects to Jubilee Gardens at the Western End, at the section that was previously home to the Dome of Discovery. The London Eye is found on the River Thames at the Southbank directly between Westminster Bridge and the Hungerford Bridge, all of which is in the borough of Lambeth in London. There are a number of Underground stations within easy reach of the London Eye, so there is ample opportunity to make your way to the London Eye. You will find that Waterloo is the nearest station but Westminster, Embankment, and Charing Cross are all within short walking distance. There is also the opportunity to connect to national train services at London Waterloo and the London Waterloo East station.
Even though the London Eye has only been operating since the start of the new millennium, there has already been a major upgrade of the capsules. This began in 2009 and it is reported that the process will cost in excess of £12 million. Each capsule of the London Eye has been removed and the floated down to the Thames to Essex and the Tilbury Docks, where repairs and upgrades have been made. There has also been a capsule changed to the Coronation Capsule which marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. By 2008, over 30 million had taken a ride on the London Eye and current estimates suggest that this figure will be moving close to 50 million visitors in the near future.
South Bank – A view of the iconic London Eye at night. Photo Credit: ©Ursula Petula Barzey.