AN ICONIC ENGLISH LANDMARK
Any visit to the magnificent city of London has to include spending time at Trafalgar Square, one of the world’s most iconic squares. Being the largest square in the city and one of the busiest areas, it’s a popular tourist attraction to hang out, people watch, and visit some of London’s historic monuments. It’s also where you will see the famous red double decker buses constantly whizzing around.
There is much to enjoy here and I loved spending time walking through the Square, taking it all in. Being central to many other must-see sites is one of the reasons you can’t miss London’s famous Trafalgar Square. Read on for other awesome reasons, and things to see and do here.
About Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square opened in 1844 to commemorate the victory of the British Royal Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar which took place in 1805, and to honour the victorious Admiral Nelson who was killed at the battle.
Today, Trafalgar Square is a symbol of free speech and a cultural plaza for the people, where large events are a regular feature, such as cultural festivities, shows, photo shoots, protests, sporting celebrations and more. Chances are something will be happening in the Square when you visit.
Snazzy fact: A huge stepped pyramid was originally planned for the site of Trafalgar Square, in 1815.
Main things to See and Do at Trafalgar Square
1. Visit the National Gallery, one of the most visited galleries in the world, established in 1824. See famous art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, such as works from Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Vincent van Gogh. Tours are available for you here.
If you can’t visit at the moment, immerse yourself in this wonderful virtual tour, one of 3 that you can take from home.
(Normally you can see famous portraits at the Portrait Gallery, which is free, but it is currently closed till 2023.)
2. See the Nelson Memorial Statue and column, the centrepiece of Trafalgar Square. The Corinthian column measures 56 metres tall and the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson on top is 5 metres. Bronze reliefs of battles fought decorate the four sides of the pillar.
3. Admire the 4 huge bronze lions guarding the column, called the Landseer Lions, named after the artist. Each are 20 feet long and are very similar in appearance but all different.
5. Check out the 4 plinths and their statues. Three have permanent statues upon them, one with King George IV, two with Generals. The 4th is an ‘arty’ plinth, used to regularly showcase a different contemporary art piece, changed every 2 years.
I’ve seen the beautiful sculpture of the giant blue cockerel standing proudly on the 4th plinth, a striking vision in the plaza. Another art piece that has been displayed on the 4th plinth is a large bronze hand with a thumbs-up. You can keep up to date with the latest on the 4th plinth here.
6. Go to St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, enjoy the free music they have often playing, there is a cafe and a shop there, and you can take part in the art of brass-rubbing in the crypt below. Brass-rubbing is an old English pass time and a fun family activity, and you get to keep your masterpiece, all for less than 5 euros. The Georgian church was built in 1726 and has a gorgeous white ceiling. Check their website for more details.
7. Marvel at London’s smallest police station, which was actually a police lookout erected before WWI, to watch over regular protests. It really is more of a wide, hollowed out, lamp post. Now, it’s just used as a broom closet by council cleaners.
8. Finally, there are numerous free events held at Trafalgar Square throughout the year that you can attend:
- Noon-time concerts at the Church, throughout the year
- New Year’ s Eve event
- New Year’s Day parade
- Chinese New Year
- St Patrick’s Day
- Carols at Christmas, and more.
Important information for visiting Trafalgar Square
- Free to visit.
- Open all hours, everyday.
- Nearest train stations are Charing Cross and Leicester Square.
- Swimming in the water fountains is ill-advised, though apparently not illegal.
- Feeding the pigeons in the Square is not allowed.
- Do not climb on the bronze lions.
Snazzy fact: Trafalgar Square has featured in several movies – The Avengers, Casino Royale and Doctor Who.