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10
Palace of Westminster
Big Ben

The installation of Big Ben wasn't an immediate success. When the bell was first completed, it created so much noise that it impeded parliamentary proceedings. Amid calls for its removal, a minor adjustment saved the bell and an enduring landmark was born [source: USA Today].

In 1834, the old Houses of Parliament in London burned almost to the ground, giving way to a renovation project that would become the new, modern, impressive and dramatic seat of government. A Tudor or Gothic style was agreed on, and a competition was held to select architects to design what became a Gothic Revival structure.

Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin created a 914-foot (289-meter) long edifice incorporating surviving sections of the old buildings, including Westminster Hall and portions of St. Stephen's Chapel, on the banks of the Thames. It was dominated by two towers, the northern Clock Tower and Victoria Tower to the south [source: Howells].

The process didn't run smoothly, though. Political wrangling, budgetary disputes, delays and social unrest hampered efforts to complete the project, and neither of the original designers lived to see it finished.

Let's travel across the channel and take a look at the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral.

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