The Victoria Embankment runs on the north stretch of the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge. Despite the cars, coaches, bicycles and emergency vehicles, it still remains one of the capital's most iconic locations. Indeed, it is a welcome contrast to the bustling South Bank which has become a little too popular in recent years.
If you can't catch it on a foggy morning, then the Victoria Embankment looks its best at night. Beautifully lit, there are numerous benches for you to park yourself and take in the neon canyons on the other side of the water.
The icing on the cake (so to speak) are the heraldic dolphins, sphinxes and camels that surround you - all the work of architect George John Vulliamy.
Constructed in the 1860s, the Victoria Embankment was the brainchild of engineer Joseph Bazalgette. The implementation of a modern sewerage network required the partial reclamation of the Thames at various points. With the sewers below ground, the road above relieved traffic congestion and delivered a magnificent walkway. Vulliamy's 'dolphin lamps' provided the illumination and the promenade soon became the envy of Europe.
Cleopatra's Needle arrived in 1878. To celebrate its appearance, the elevated seating was given a suitably Egyptian feel by Vulliamy with the adornment of sphinxes¹ and camels. Incidentally, Vulliamy also worked on the ancient obelisk as well - the two sphinxes² are his too (even if they are incorrectly installed).
¹ Classical Greek