Big Ben falls silent for repairs

An essential part of the London landscape is disappearing for up to four years. Not a sight, but a sound: the hourly bong-bong-bong-bong of Big Ben.

The distinctive and reassuring chimes, which have marked the passage of time since the Victorian era, will fall silent after ringing out at noon on Monday for the final time before a $37 million restoration project at the tower in which the bell is housed.

The building, in millions of replicas, and the chimes, played by clocks around the world, are among the most recognizable symbols of modern Britain and have become a tourist attraction in their own right