In 1067 the Normans built temporary fortifications in the south-east corner of the Roman wall enclosing the City of London.
Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester was given the task of building the keep in 1078. He used white stone from Caen to build an impressive royal residence, including a chapel and great hall, 90 feet high with 15 feet thick walls.
This was the tallest building in London and became known as the White Tower. William II completed the work started by William the Conqueror and in 1097 built a wall around the Tower.
During the 12th century further buildings were added to the castle but it wasn't until the reign of Henry III that work was clearly recorded. Henry III carried out major rebuilding and redecoration of the royal residence. The internal rooms were whitewashed and so was the outside of the Tower.
Edward I was responsible for building the outer curtain wall and towers and the digging of the moat which were completed in 1281. He also built the river entrance known as Traitors' Gate. By now the site had expanded to 12 acres including an embankment built along the river. It was at this time that the Royal Mint was set up in the Tower and remained there until 1811.
Henry VIII was mostly responsible that the appearance of the Tower of London today. He also built a half-timbered royal residence known as the King's House and the angle turrets on the White Tower. During the 1530s the Tower ceased to be a royal residence and after the Civil War the ancient palace was demolished.
Although a royal residence the Tower was also used as a prison from its early beginnings up to the 20th century. The last prisoner held here was Rudolf Hess in 1941. It was through Traitors' Gate that high-ranking prisoners would enter the Tower. Many prisoners were executed on Tower Hill just outside the castle and the last execution took place in 1747.
The atmosphere of the Tower at the present date is the result of restoration carried out by the architect Salvin in the 19th century. In 1875 the Tower was opened to the public for the first time.
Today the Tower houses the Crown Jewels and the Royal Armouries. 40 Yeoman Warders in Tudor regalia guard the Tower and one of these, the Ravenmaster, looks after the famous ravens.
Ome of the nicest ways to get here is to take one of the river boats to Tower Pier. A very popular tourist attraction, the Tower Of London facilities include two gift shops, a restaurant, and cafes.