Big Ben is the nickname of the clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, named after the great bell within the clock.
The tower is officially known as the Elizabeth Tower (prior to being renamed in 2012 it was known as simply “Clock Tower”) to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower. The tower was completed in 1858 and had its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009, during which celebratory events took place. The tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom and is often in the establishing shot of films set in London.
The clock and dials were designed by Augustus Pugin. The clock dials are set in an iron frame 23 feet in diameter, supporting 312 pieces of opal glass, rather like a stained-glass window. Some of the glass pieces may be removed for inspection of the hands. The surround of the dials is gilded. At the base of each clock dial in gilt letters is the Latin inscription: “DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM“, which means O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.
The main bell, officially known as the Great Bell, is the largest bell in the tower and part of the Great Clock of Westminster. The bell is better known by the nickname Big Ben. The original bell was a 16 ton hour bell, cast on August 6, 1856 in Stockton-on-Tees by John Warner & Sons. The bell was named in honor of Sir Benjamin Hall, and his name is inscribed on it.
The clock has become a symbol of the United Kingdom, particularly in the visual media. When a television or film-maker wishes to indicate a generic location in the country, a popular way to do so is to show an image of the tower, often with a red double-decker bus or black cab in the foreground.
In 2008 a survey of 2,000 people found that the tower was the most popular landmark in the United Kingdom. It has also been named as the most iconic film location in London.