All you have to do is stroll around Trafalgar Square once to see why it's considered to be the epicentre of London's festivities. And with so many important London attractions surrounding it (like The National Gallery and St.-Martin-in-the-Fields, just to name a few), no trip to London would be complete without a visit to Trafalgar Square.
The origins of Trafalgar Square as we know it today can be dated all the way back to the 1800s, when the British navy celebrated the victory of the Battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic Wars off the coast of Cape Trafalgar, Spain (hence the name).
During the 1820s George IV hired architect John Nash to redevelop the area, and between 1832 and 1838 The National Gallery was built on the northern side of the square.
Throughout its history Trafalgar Square has been used in many different films and TV series, such as The Avengers, Casino Royale, Children of Men, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Trafalgar Square Highlights
There are several different monuments in Trafalgar Square, with the most important being Nelson’s Column located at the centre, which has four lion statues at its base as well as fountains which were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The four lion statues were sculpted by Sir Edward Landseer and melted down from cannons which were aboard French and Spanish ships during the Battle of Trafalgar. At the top of a column there is a statue of Horatio Nelson (who was the vice admiral of the British fleet during the Battle of Trafalgar).
There are also many statues and sculptures located in Trafalgar Square, such as a bronze equestrian statue of George IV, General Sir Charles James Napierby, and Major-General Sir Henry Havelock. There are also three busts of admirals on the north wall of the square of Lord Jellicoe and Lord Beatty, and a bust of the First Sea Lord Admiral Cunningham from World War II was installed in 1967.
On the southern side of the square you will see a bronze equestrian statue of Charles I which was placed in in 1678, and also two statues of James II and George Washington on the lawn in front of The National Gallery.
The National Gallery is located on the northern end of Trafalgar Square, while the historic St Martin-in-the-Fields Church is located on the eastern side. Canada House is located to the west, as well as the South Africa House on the east side. The square is also attached to The Mall (through the Admiralty Arch), the Strand as well as Charing Cross Road.
- If you plan on visiting Buckingham Palace, follow The Strand/The Mall directly from Trafalgar Square for about 18 minutes
- If you want to see St. James's Palace, head down Cockspur Street and follow Pall Mall for about 11 minutes
- For Piccadilly Circus, it's an easy (and beautiful) eight-minute walk by following Cockspur Street, and then Haymarket
- Don't feed the pigeons in the square as it is strictly forbidden