- Location: Central London
- Attraction Type: Public Square
- Significance: Public Square, Statues, Sculptures
- Best Time to visit: London can be visited at any time of the year. However, you always have to be ready for the occasional rain.
- How to Reach: A number of bus routes run through Trafalgar Square, like 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, 453. Using the London tube, get down at Charing Cross — Northern or Bakerloo Lines. They both have access to the square.
- Nearest International Airport: Heathrow International Airport, London
It is the most representative area in London City. For people around the world, Trafalgar Square has become synonymous with everything British. As such, you cannot afford to miss a tour to the Trafalgar Square during your London tour. Apart from being an impressive city square in itself, Trafalgar Square is also the starting point for a large number of popular London attractions, including the National Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-fields Church, and the English National Opera.
However, do not let the vibrancy and the calming presence of the visiting birds fool you into believing the square as the most peaceful of places. It has been and continues to be the site of some of the most virulent political and social protests. A protest against the Afghan war was one of the most recent political demonstrations in the square, with precedence in protests against apartheid, Poll Tax, and Chartist Meetings. It was the site where the widespread Pall Mall riot of 1886 started with a rally against unemployment. Despite government attempts to stop political demonstrations in the area, it is still one of the places where public opinions find a voice.
History of Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square was a center of activities right from the times of Edward I when it housed the king’s stables towards the northern part. The original Charing Cross was located to the south. It was designed as a public square in the early 19th century, under the encouragement of Prince Nash. The duty of turning it into a public square was invested with John Nash, who took the first steps by clearing away the area as a part of the Charing Cross Improvement Scheme. However, it was not Nash but Charles Barry who completed the project in 1845. Originally, the square was supposed to be named King William the Fourth’s Square but was later changed to Trafalgar Square to commemorate the victory of the British navy in the Napoleonic Wars.
Things to See in Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is rich in sculptures, monuments, and fountains. At the center of the park stands the imposing and impressive Nelson’s Column. The column is surmounted by a statue of Nelson in his military costumes, and the entire structure is guarded by four lions on four corners. The lions, made of bronze, were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer and were cast out of bronze molten from the French guns captured in the battle. The five-meter tall statue of Nelson was made by E.H. Baily. The bronze platform on which it stands was made in the Woolwich Arsenal Foundry. The sculptures at the base, again depicting four glorious incidents from Nelson’s life, were also cast out of bronze from the molten guns.
The four plinths on the square are meant for sculptural displays. Three of them have statues of General Sir Charles James Napier, Major General Sir Henry Havelock, and King George IV. The northwest plinth, popularly known as the ‘fourth plinth’, does not have a permanent sculpture. It is now used to showcase modern and contemporary artworks commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts that keep changing.
Pigeons are intrinsically linked to the tradition of Trafalgar Square. Both residents and tourists loved to feed them, and they very commonly filmed and photographed. However, their strong presence was a hazard to the sculptures in the square as well as health hazards for human beings. Through the enactment of timely bye-laws, their numbers were restricted. The sale of bird seeds and feeding of birds are now completely banned in the Square. A few birds are now kept in captivity and are used only for filming and festival purposes.
Accommodation in London
London is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. Millions visit the city throughout the year for leisure as well as business purposes. There are few cities with more numerous and varied accommodation opportunities as well. Trafalgar Square is right in the middle of London. So, it does not matter where you stay in London, Square is easy to visit.
Accommodation in London is available for people of all budget ranges, although the city itself is considered to be one on an expensive side. Some of the popular hotels include Metropolitan London, Flemings Mayfair Hotel, The Imperial London Hotel, and the Langham Hotel. Some of the more inexpensive hotels in London include Shakespeare Hotel, Sleeping Beauty Motel, the Dolphin Hotel, Westbury Kensington Hotel, and the Royal Norfolk Hotel.