To get as close as possible to Big Ben, use earplugs and noise-canceling headphones to protect your eardrums. And when the 13.7-tonne bell rings, the vibrations can be felt right through the chest.
After five long years of renovation, the most famous clock in the world will officially come out of its silence on Sunday and start telling Londoners what time it is again.
1,000 parts cleaned
The emblematic bell that dominates the British Parliament will thus return to its usual rhythm after the meticulous cleaning of more than 1,000 parts that make it up.
In August 2017, more than a thousand people gathered outside the Houses of Parliament to religiously listen to the last twelve strikes of Big Ben and the four other – smaller – bells that accompany it. Some had even shed a tear, thinking they were losing a part of their city.
Many should meet again on Sunday at 12:00 (Paris time) to hear this symbol of London reverberate. The four-bell carillon will then chime every quarter, and Big Ben every hour, as it had done for 158 years before the renovation.
A symbolic date
The date coincides with “Remembrance Sunday”, celebrated on the Sunday after November 11 to commemorate the First World War Armistice.
In five years, the clock has rung on a few rare occasions thanks to a replacement electric mechanism, as recently at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8.
The bells are located at the top of the Elizabeth Tower – 96 meters high – protected by an external net to prevent bats and pigeons from rushing into the bell tower.