London's world-famous Big Ben clock tower is about to become visible for the first time in three years after a multi-million dollar face-lift project completed a critical phase, authorities at the Houses of Parliament announced Sunday.
The chiming clock in the Elizabeth Tower, one of the most photographed structures in the world, has been shrouded behind scaffolding and screens due to the intricate renovation work.
Over the course of the next six weeks, the newly restored tower will slowly be revealed. An expert team of scaffolders will work to take down the metal scaffolding in the restricted space around the Tower.
"Three years after the structure was scaffolded, this is a significant moment in the timeline of this complex conservation project," said a spokesperson for the parliamentary estate.
Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the House of Commons, said: "Like everyone else, I have been looking forward to seeing the scaffolding come down on Elizabeth Tower, so the unveiling of the roof will be a memorable moment."
Extensive work has restored both the inside and the outside of the Elizabeth Tower, including the 3,433 roof tiles and the spire with its intricate flowers, cross and orb. The conservation work addresses crucial problems in the tower, including crumbling stone and a leaky roof.
The tower's signature metal cross and orb, which sits 96 meters above ground level, has also been repaired, with a team of expert gilders spending weeks to ensure the ornate details match the original design from 1859.
The Big Ben tower is a focal point of the culturally-protected Palace of Westminster which forms a part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.