TRAFALGAR SQUARE ULTIMATE GUIDE
Open: Open 24 hours
Time Needed: 30 min
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.
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
If you are travelling by tube, the nearest stations are Charing Cross (a two-minute walk away), Embankment (a seven-minute walk away) or Leicester Square (a six-minute walk away).
If you are travelling by train, the Charing Cross Station is a two-minute walk away
If you are travelling by bus, you can get to Trafalgar Square via routes 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, and 453
Modern-day Trafalgar Square is essentially the epicentre for all of London’s festivities. And although the square itself is historically important in its own right, what’s truly special about Trafalgar Square today is that it hosts a variety of events, performances and celebrations throughout the year. As a matter of fact, depending on when you plan on visiting London, chances are you will stumble upon some sort of special event or celebration during your visit to Trafalgar Square.
A Christmas tree has been placed in Trafalgar Square every year since 1947, and the initial tree was given to London from Norway in gratitude of Britain’s support of Norway during World War II. To this day, both Londoners and tourists head to Trafalgar Square each December to see the massively decorated Norwegian spruce tree, and watch the official Christmas tree lighting ceremony in late November.
Trafalgar Square also hosts an annual firework event for New Year’s Eve where both tourists and locals gather to dance in the square’s fountains and watch a free broadcast of the nearby fireworks demonstration on large viewing screens.
Every October 21st the Sea Cadet Corps host an annual parade to honour the anniversary Admiral Lord Nelson and the British victory of the Battle of Trafalgar, and every November 11th the Royal British Legion holds a Silence in the Square event in remembrance to those who have died in the World Wars.
There are also a ton of events planned for more lively holidays or events such as St. Patrick’s Day, the Pride in London Parade and many more. Make sure you check out Trafalgar Square’s official website before you visit to see if there are any events scheduled for that day.
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