Be honest, who among us hasn’t dreamed of meeting Mohammad Ali? Or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Or even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? Well, the enduring appeal of Madame Tussauds for millions of visitors to London is that they can (sort of) do just that – and take a selfie of the moment too.
The world-famous tourist attraction contains a cornucopia of life-size, lifelike mannequins, such as the Fab Four rocking out on their guitars, the James Bonds doing their ‘gunbarrel poses’ and Kylie sporting her unforgettably skimpy shorts. Meanwhile, in the venue’s Grand Hall there’s a plethora of political and religious leaders. The great and the good of world history all grouped together – Winston Churchill and Ghandi standing side-by-side and Picasso painting while Beethoven plays piano.
Having opened in 1835, Madame Tussauds has never moved from its Baker Street address (within very easy reach of the Shaftesbury Metropolis London Hyde Park Paddington) and, to this day, remains one of the capital’s top attractions. Madame Tussaud herself was born Marie Groszholtz in Strasbourg, Austria; in 1794 she inherited a collection of waxworks and for the next 33 years toured them around Europe. Eventually, she settled in London, her exhibit growing to become a much-loved gallery of famous people from the past and – despite being damaged by fire in 1925 and struck by bombs in World War Two – it endures to this day in much the same spirit of its original 19th Century self, ensuring that to visit Madame Tussauds is an essential London thing to do for millions.
A brand new aspect of the venue is ‘The Spirit of London’, which sees you whisked through four centuries of UK history in a time-travelling black cab, taking in not just the sights but also the smells the Great Fire of London, pea-soupers and the charismatic Swinging Sixties. Mind you, maybe the most popular section is the onerous-sounding ‘Chamber of Horrors’. It’s here that unfortunate torture victims and criminals are ‘jailed’ alongside the boogeymen of history like Guy Fawkes and Adolf Hitler. And, yes, sound effects add to the atmos. A little tasteless? You be the judge – go along and see what all the fuss has been about these past 180 years!
Open: 9.30am-5.30pm weekdays and 9am-6pm at weekends (term-time); 8.30am-7pm daily (school holidays)