Houses of parliament, U.K.

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Houses of parliament, London
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The Houses of parliament and Big Ben.
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Information about Houses of parliament

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, in London, England is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet to conduct their business. The Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the London borough of the City of Westminster, close by other government buildings in Whitehall.

The oldest part of the Palace still in existence, Westminster Hall, dates from 1097. The palace originally served as a royal residence but no monarch has lived in it since the 16th century. Most of the present structure dates from the 19th century, when the Palace was rebuilt after it was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in 1834. The architects responsible for rebuilding the Palace were Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin. The building is an example of Gothic revival. One of the Palace's most famous features is the clock tower, a tourist attraction that houses the famous bell Big Ben. The latter name is often used, erroneously, for the clock itself.

The Palace contains over 1,000 rooms, the most important of which are the Chambers of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons. The Palace also includes committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining-rooms, bars and gymnasiums. It is the site of important state ceremonies, most notably the State Opening of Parliament. The Palace is very closely associated with the two Houses, as shown by the use of the word "Westminster" to refer to "Parliament". Parliamentary offices overspill into nearby buildings such as Portcullis House, and Norman Shaw Buildings.

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