The Tate Modern broke the mould in many ways when it opened in 2000. Here, at the beginning of the new millennium, was a new landmark for London – a stunning piece of architecture converted from a disused power station on the banks of the Thames at Bankside – and the first British national gallery devoted entirely to modern art. Originally the Tate collection’s contemporary component was shown alongside British art from 1500 onwards in a much smaller gallery at Millbank (this has since become a national gallery of British art). After the Bankside site was secured, an international architectural competition was called and a project from the then little-known Swiss practice Herzog and de Meuron won, largely for proposing to alter the exterior of the edifice very little and retaining its 90-metre high chimney. A new bridge was built across the river adjacent to the building, giving the Tate Modern direct dialogue with another of London’s most famous landmarks, St. Paul’s cathedral. (Wren’s masterpiece can also be viewed from the glass-enclosed top floor, which was added by the architects). One of the Tate’s most stunning features is the Turbine Hall, a mammoth entrance-gallery that over the past ten years has displayed specially-commissioned pieces from some of the world’s most cutting-edge and thought provoking artistic talent. Media has ranged from sculpture, such as Louise Bourgeois’ gigantesque brooding spider ‘Mamon’ to installation; Olafur Eliasson’s ‘The Weather Project’, a giant sun placed in the dark void of the Turbine Hall, brought in thousands of winter-weary Londoners to bask in its surreal orange glow. The Tate’s vast collection, which includes works from artists as diverse as Monet, Picasso, Holtzer and Bacon and covers all the major contemporary movements, has now even outgrown the herculean halls of the power station. To see the Tate Modern through the next decades, an iconic new annexe (a ‘folding in on itself’ design also by Herzog and de Meuron) is currently under construction, allowing for extra exhibition space and more social areas. Tate Modern, Bankside, London, Tel. 020 7887 8888, Sun – Thurs 10am–6pm, Fri, Sat 10am – 10pm. Free. | Since 2006 Holiday Velvet offers London accommodation.