Britain's pre-eminent gallery of international modern art, Tate Modern, on London's Bankside houses 70,000 pieces of art. Book one of our hotels near Tate Modern London and discover contemporary art, life and more in historical London.
Tate Modern, in its present site, is housed within the former Bankside Power Station which was commissioned in 1952 before closing in 1981. The building was created and designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and shares many architectural features with Battersea Power Station, also devised by Scott.
The gallery holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the current day, encompassing pieces from WWI, the surrealist works of Dali and Ernst, through to the heroes of British modern art, including Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Alexander McQueen.
From Tate Modern, head in any direction and within a few yards you'll stumble across a famous landmark, an ancient building and something of interest. A six-minute walk from Tate modern takes you to the recreation of Elizabethan-era theatre, Shakespeare's Globe. In under a quarter of an hour you're at Christopher Wren's masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral.
There is so much to take in at Tate Modern that you'll probably need a coffee break and perhaps a muffin or some cake. The Tate Café provides the welcome bonus of fantastic views across the Thames. For a lunch in historical surroundings, The Southwark Tavern should do the trick. And dare you eat in their downstairs debtor's cells? For a view across the river of Tate Modern itself, High Timber is a classy, modern establishment that even has its own gallery of South African artists. Follow the arc of the Thames southward and within 25 minutes you'll be at the London Eye, from the top of which you'll have unparalleled 360° views of the City. And in ten minutes you can arrive at Crossbones Graveyard, once an unconsecrated burial ground during the 13th century and now a focal point for locals and visitors, particularly on the 23rd of each month when a vigil is held.
The City's pubs, clubs and live music venues are all within easy reach. From Soho's Coach and Horses pub – a haunt of Francis Bacon's – to Ministry of Sound and the Brixton Academy, the list goes on.
There is a huge choice of places to splash the cash. Oxford Street is Europe's busiest shopping thoroughfare and Camden Town provides counter-cultural chic. Soho, Carnaby Street and Covent Garden are replete with boutique shops selling fashion, fragrances and the like. London has some of the very best markets, whether it's Billingsgate for fish or the intriguing bric-a-brac of Brick Lane. For an array of shops under one roof, Westfield London, The Brunswick and One New Change are hard to beat. And in keeping with the contemporary qualities of Tate Modern, the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre is an unabashed example of 1970s and 1980s design.