Thursday, Oct. 02, 2008

6. Kensington Gardens

Londoners of a certain age will tell you that Germans shaped their city. They're right, but the Blitz wasn't the only thing that left its mark on London. In 1728, Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach, the German-born wife of King George II, commissioned works to the southern swath of Hyde Park — later redesignated Kensington Gardens — creating the Serpentine, an artificial lake, and landscaping the surrounding lawns and walkways. (A stately circuit of these ornamental waters will take you 40 minutes, and you can swim at the Serpentine Lido from May to September.) Queen Caroline lived in Kensington Palace, on the western edge of the park, which has been home to assorted members of the extended royal family and household, but will, of course, forever be associated with its most iconic resident, Princess Diana. Kensington Gardens is studded with shrines to the late Princess, including a fountain dedicated to her memory by the Queen in 2004.