The opening ceremony will be a free public celebration of the Tour de France's arrival in London in Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and lies in the heart of the capital. It is packed full of architecture, monuments and statues. Designed by Sir Charles Barry, building started in 1840 and was completed five years later. Nelson's Column dominates the square, 170 foot high with Nelson's 17-foot statue on top! The column is surrounded by fountains and four large lions. These were designed by Edwin Landseer and are believed to have been made from the recycled metal of the French fleet!
Today, the square has undergone major redevelopment and is at the heart of London's cultural scene. Home to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Admiralty Arch and a stones throw away from the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, the square also hosts a summer season of events, a changing exhibit on the fourth plinth and regular celebratory events.
The start of this epic event begins with the Prologue route on Whitehall, in front of Trafalgar Square, where the riders will race past Downing Street towards Big Ben on a 7.9 km course. Turning at the Houses of Parliament, the route goes along Victoria Street, past Westminster Abbey and in front of Buckingham Palace. After the Palace the riders will pass through the middle of Wellington Arch, before looping through London's most famous park, Hyde Park. Finally the riders will pass back around Hyde Park Corner and along Constitution Hill, before ending on The Mall with Buckingham Palace as a backdrop.
The Stage 1 route then commences starting on The Mall, runs through Admiralty Arch and then proceeds alongside the Thames down to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The riders will cross The Thames before riding past the London Eye and looping back to take in St Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London. The riders will pass over Tower Bridge, through Bermondsey and Deptford to Greenwich where they will cross the Greenwich Meridian Line, where all time zones are measured from. The route then passes through Woolwich, Abbey Wood and Erith, before leaving London for Dartford in Kent.
The route then goes through Gravesend and on to Medway, dominated by Rochester Castle and Cathedral. Passing on through Maidstone the route will take the riders to Tonbridge and then on to Royal Tunbridge Wells. The route winds through the beautiful Kent countryside, through the picturesque village of Tenterden and past Ashford to a potentially nail biting finish in Canterbury.
Official Website: http://www.tourdefrancelondon.com
Added by The_Polstar on June 23, 2007