The Queen has declared the London 2012 Paralympics, the 11-day sporting event, officially open at a spectacular ceremony which officials termed as "profoundly about science and humanity".
"It is with tremendous pride that the people of London and the United Kingdom welcome the world to the London 2012 Paralympics Games," the Queen said in a statement released in advance.
"The Games are returning to the country where they first began, more than 60 years ago."
"We look forward to celebrating the uplifting spirit which distinguishes the Paralympic Games from other events, drawing on Britain's unique sporting heritage."
The four-hour gala at the Stratford stadium, titled "Enlightenment" showcased the role of science in bringing out societal changes and that challenged the perceptions of human possibility.
"Prepare to be inspired, prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be moved," Paralympics chief Sebastian Coe told the spectators.
"It is my great honour to say welcome home to the Paralympic Games."
Art directors Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey created a dramatic and moving event, watched by nearly 80,000 people worldwide.
The ceremony featured Professor Stephen Hawking, actor Sir Ian McKellen and a host of differently enabled artists along with children from nearby areas and other performers.
"The Games provide an opportunity for athletes to excel, to stretch themselves and become outstanding in their field. So let us together celebrate excellence, friendship, and respect. Good luck to you all," said Professor Hawking.
The event showcased a performance of Ian Dury's Spasticus Autisticus by members of the Graeae Theatre Company and a giant version of the of Marc Quinn's celebrated sculpture of a limbless woman, Alison Lapper Pregnant.
Former Paralympic archer and Britain's first Paralympic Games gold medallist, Margaret Maughan, lighted the flame in the 205-petals long-stemmed cauldron. Afghan veteran and double amputee Joe Townsend on a zip wire flew in the flame to the stadium.
Up to 4,200 athletes from 164 countries will be competing for 503 gold medals across 20 different events. The ParalympicsGB includes over 300 athletes.
First day events include track cycling, judo, powerlifting, shooting and swimming and women's 10m sir rifle standing - SH1.
Scroll through the pictures to get a glimpse of the spectacular and moving opening ceremony of London 2012 Paralympics: