The City is the oldest part of London known in the Roman times as Londinium and was under Roman rule for a fifth of its history. The Romans built a wooden amphitheater, a Wembley Stadium of the times, accommodating more than 7,000 spectators to watch wild animal fights and execution of criminals, as well as gladiator combats. Over the centuries it was buried under layers of later buildings and was re-discovered in 1988 during site preparations for the new art gallery. The record of the finds from 13 years of fieldwork filled three volumes and the amphitheater was opened to public in 2002. It is six meters below the modern pavement. The circle of black paving stones in Guildhall Yard marks the original extent of the arena.
From the Roman times fast forward to the 12 century when the City became so important to the country as a trading center that the Crown granted the people their own form of local government. The government, formed before the Parliament, sits in the Guildhall, the City’s only secular medieval building . The City is divided into 25 wards and 125 members are elected to represent them. The Square Mile as it is also known counts 9,000 residents and around 400,000 workers. It is a city within a city and even has its own police with 700 officers. The City’s present-day links to its past through more than 100 livery companies that were created from the early trade practices in the 12th century: Merchant Taylors, Fishmongers, Drapers and Haberdashers. You can visit the Guildhall and the amphitheater for free. Also worth visiting is the Art Gallery which provides a portrait of the City through years. The changing display counts 250 artworks from its permanent collection including Victorian art and Dutch 17th-cenury masterpieces. The library also host various exhibitions and talks throughout the year. Free introductory tours of under 45 minutes are available on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 12:15, 1:15, 2:15, 3:15. They can be joined or left at any time and no booking is required.