The London Olympic Stadium, focal point of the London 2012 Olympic Games (27 July - 12 August) and Paralympic Games (29 August - 9 September), sits at the heart of what will become known on its reopening in 2013 as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
It took seven years to transform the 560 acres of once-derelict industrial land in east London into a green oasis of parks, meadows and wetlands, with the Stadium itself sitting on an island, surrounded by water on three sides, and accessed via five bridges.
But, when the final curtain comes down on London 2012, the work will begin all over again - this time in the form of a £300 million construction project that will see the Olympic Park undergo yet another metamorphosis, this time into a shape that will hopefully be permanent.
As soon as the Paralympic Games finish on 9 September 2012, the Olympic Park will close completely for a while so that transformation work can be carried out as quickly as possible.
For a year (until July 2013), there will be no direct access to the Olympic Park for the general public. Views will be from the perimeter only.
At the time of writing (August 2012), the best of these is from the John Lewis department store (pictured, right), which is close to the flashy new Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, one of the largest urban shopping centres in Europe and adjacent to the Olympic Park.
Take the tube or Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Stratford station (pictured, left) and then head up to the London 2012 Shop on the third floor of John Lewis where there's a special viewing platform overlooking the Olympic Park. (A fee of £2 per person was introduced during the actual Games as a way of coping with the vast numbers of people wanting to use the platform.)
From this vantage point, you'll have a view of the London Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre, and the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower, designed by Anish Kapoor.
Alternatively, you can follow the road round a little way, as it curves round the perimeter, for a similar view from a slightly different angle (see, left). Be warned, though: it's not a particularly nice walk - all main roads and deafening traffic, with only the odd pedestrian.
I'm not sure how far you can walk round. I'll admit that I gave up pretty quickly, as it was just too inhospitable, and made my way back to Westfield, which is bursting with places to eat and drink, as well as shop.
There are also good views to be had of the London Olympic Stadium and the Orbit from Pudding Mill Lane DLR Station (see, right).
And you may have heard about the View Tube, a yellow-green construction made out of recycled shipping containers, located on the Greenway, a foot- and cycle-path near Pudding Mill Lane DLR, with a great cafe and fine vistas over the Olympic Park. Unfortunately, both the View Tube and the Greenway are closed temporarily until December 2012.BACK TO TOP of London Olympic Stadium & Park
The new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will open in phases from 27 July 2013, exactly one year on from the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Games, and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has an ambitious vision for its future, aiming to transform it into the capital's version of New York's Central Park - a local park which is also a tourist attraction and a magnet for visitors.
There will be over 35 km of pathways and cyclepaths, 6.5 km of waterways, and endless acres of landscaped open space.
8,000 new homes will take shape across five new neighbourhoods, to be built in stages over the next 20 years. The Park’s first housing development, the East Village, will rise up in the area that started life as the Athletes' Village.
The North Park, which will begin reopening from July 2013 onwards, is expected to be the more tranquil part of the development, with green parklands surrounded by waterways. It will be home to the Multi-Use Arena (formerly the Copper Box), VeloPark, and the Lee Valley Tennis Centre and Hockey Centre.
The South Plaza, with its fountains, light spectaculars, garden areas, bars and eateries, will be the more vibrant, 'happening' section of the Park, home to the Aquatics Centre, the Orbit Tower, and the London Olympic Stadium itself. When it reopens in spring 2014, the transformation of the Park will be complete.BACK TO TOP of London Olympic Stadium & Park
Three temporary structures erected specially for the Olympics - namely the Basketball Arena, Water Polo Arena and Riverbank Arena (home of the Olympic hockey tournament) - will be demolished, but the memory of the Games will live on in five world-class venues, serving the needs of top athletes and local community alike.
The most iconic building on the Park, the London Olympic Stadium (seen here from the viewing platform at John Lewis) still has an uncertain future.
Built to be flexible, the Stadium could be used for major international championships and other sporting fixtures, as well as concerts and other large-scale events.
Although it can seat 80,000 people (as at the Games), only the lower tier of seating, with a capacity of 25,000, is permanent. An upper tier, made of steel and concrete, and holding a further 55,000 spectators, is likely to be dismantled.
However, the Stadium currently has no operator or tenant attached to it, and the only definite thing is that the athletics track will remain to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
(Incidentally, the building in front of the Stadium in the photo, with the sloping, silver roof, is the Water Polo Arena, one of the temporary venues taken down after the Games.)
Olympic Events: Athletics, Opening & Closing Ceremonies
Next to the London Olympic Stadium is the Aquatics Centre, featuring a 50-metre competition pool, a 25-metre competition diving pool, a 50-metre warm-up pool, and a 'dry' warm-up area for divers.
Designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, it has a capacity of 17,500 and a vast, wave-shaped roof - steel and glass on the outside, treated timber within - that has been likened to a whale's tail coming out of the water.
After the Olympics, its capacity will be reduced to 2,500 (although this can be increased for major competitions) and it will be transformed into a facility serving both the local population and elite swimmers that is expected to attract 800,000 visitors a year.
Olympic Events: Diving, Swimming, Synchronised Swimming, Modern Pentathlon
If the Aquatics Centre has been likened to a whale's tail, the Velodrome, in the north of the Olympic Park, has been compared with a Pringle crisp.
It holds 6,000 spectators, and a glass wall around the venue's perimeter, between the lower and upper tiers of seating, gives spectators a 360-degree view of the Olympic Park.
Arguably the best cycling facility in the world, it will offer track cycling, mountain bike trails, road cycling and BMX for everyone.
The design encourages natural ventilation and lets in plenty of natural light, reducing the need for both artificial lighting and air-conditioning, and the roof collects rainwater, considerably reducing mains water usage.
Inside, the track is made of sustainable Siberian pine wood, and its slope, together with the venue's temperature, have been meticulously worked out to provide the best possible conditions for fast rides.
Olympic Events: Cycling (Track)
Known as the Copper Box during the 2012 Games, the Multi-Use Arena will be used for a wide range of activities in the future - cultural and corporate, as well as sporting.
Seating up to 7,500, the venue is extremely flexible, with retractable seating that can change the floor size, making it suitable for a wide range of indoor sports, including basketball, handball, badminton, boxing, martial arts, netball, table tennis, wheelchair rugby and volleyball.
The top half of the venue is clad in 3,000 square metres of external copper cladding (hence the original name), mostly recycled, to give it a unique appearance that will develop a rich natural colour as it ages.
Olympic Events: Handball, Modern Pentathlon
During the Olympics, the Lee Valley Tennis & Hockey Centre was known as Eton Manor, built on the site of the old Eton Manor Sports Club.
It was the only permanent new London 2012 Paralympic venue, hosting the Wheelchair Tennis.
After the Games, the area is set to be transformed into a tennis centre with four indoor and six outdoor courts, and also a hockey centre with two pitches. There is also space for ten five-a-side football pitches to be added in the future.
Olympic Events: Wheelchair TennisBACK TO TOP of London Olympic Stadium & Park
The Orbit, standing 115 metres high and designed by Anish Kapoor, is Britain's tallest art structure.
But it's much more than simply decorative. From it's location in the south of the Olympic Park, it offers amazing views, not just of the Stadium and its environs, but of the whole of London.
A lift with viewing portholes takes just 30 seconds to ascend to a viewing platform 85 metres above the ground.
Visitors are then able to complete their experience by walking down the spiral staircase that winds through the Orbit's twisting form.
After the Games, the Orbit will close, along with the rest of the Olympic Park, re-opening again in early 2014, when it is expected to become one of London's most popular viewing platforms.BACK TO TOP of London Olympic Stadium & Park
The London 2012 Olympics are over, with the Olympic Park closed to the public for another year or two. However, for sports fans visiting the city, there's no shortage of unmissable attractions - and you can see them for free with a London Pass!
Wembley Stadium Tours take you behind the scenes at the home of the England football team; the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and Wimbledon Tour Experience give VIP access to restricted areas where even tournament ticket holders are forbidden to enter; and the Lord's Cricket Ground Tour offers a privileged insider's view of the sport's spiritual home. Additionally, you can avail yourself of the Chelsea FC Stadium Tour and the Twickenham Rugby Museum & Stadium Tour.
The London Pass is the ultimate sightseeing package for visitors to the city. Holders get free entry to over 55 top attractions as well as a comprehensive guide book and lots of other special offers.
Is it cost effective? Well, that depends very much on what you plan to see during your trip. However, these sporting venues are some of the most expensive attractions in London to visit, so, if you're planning to see one or more of them, a London Pass is certainly worth looking into, and you can get more information here.BACK TO TOP of London Olympic Stadium & Park