The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom_the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the heart of the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the historic Westminster Abbey and the government buildings of Whitehall and Downing Street. The name may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex, most of which burned in 1834, and its replacement New Palace that stands today. For ceremonial purposes, the palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence. The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512.
Contributions by Lord Emsworth, CalJW, and Tagishsimon.