Located at the heart of London is the famous Trafalgar Square. It is likely that any visit to London will take one to and through this iconic public square. Trafalgar Square is basically automatically part of any tour of London and it is good to know something about the heart of the city.
City squares are often some of the best places to really get the feel and vibe of a city. It is often where the things of the city happen. In New York City there are many surprising things about Times Square that may shock many.
About Trafalgar Square And What To Expect
Trafalgar Square is located in the City of Westminster in Central London. One will almost certainly visit this square during any weekend in London is one of the city's attractions that won't blow all one's money.
- Commemorates: The Name Commemorates The Battle of Trafalgar When The British Decisively Defeated The French and Spanish Navies In The Napoleonic Wars
It was established in the early 1800s in what was formerly known as Charing Cross. The area around the square has been a significant landmark since the 1200s.
The square has long been used for community gatherings and political demonstrations from Bloody Sunday in 1887 to Extinction Rebellion protests.
Some of the prominent buildings in the square include the South Africa House, the Canada House, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and the National Gallery.
Surrounding Trafalgar Square are:
- To the North: The National Gallery
- To the East: St Martins-in-the-Fields Church and The Strand
- To The South: Whitehall
- To The South West: The Admiralty Arch and The Mall
Don't Feed The Trafalgar Square Pigeons
Trafalgar Square was also famous for its feral pigeons that characterize London - but these have now been largely removed. The pigeons once numbered in the thousands but they were becoming a public hygiene health risk and their poop was damaging the Square's monuments including the statue of Nelson.
It was once popular for people to feed the vast flocks of pigeons since the Victorian era and there were feed sellers there.
In February 2001 the sale of birdseed there was stopped and other measures were taken to discourage the pigeons from the square. People continued to feed the pigeons anyway but then a bye-law was passed that banned people from feeding them in the square in 2003. But people rebelled and fed them in the North Terrace area until 2007 when that was banned too.
Today it is illegal to feed the pigeons anywhere in Trafalgar Square under the bylaw.
- Fine: There Is a £500 ($680) Fine For Feeding The Pigeons
In response, a group called Save The Trafalgar Square Pigeons (STTSP) was set up and even created their own website - www.savethepigeons.org at was still active as of 2022.
In the center of Trafalgar Square is Nelson's Column. It commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson who fought, won, and died in the Battle of Trafalgar saving Britain from any lingering invasion threat from Napoleon. It was built between 1840 and 1843 and made of Dartmoor granite.
The column is of the Corinthian order while the statue of Nelson is carved out of Craigleith sandstone.
- Built: Between 1840 and 1843
- Commemorates: Admiral Horatio Nelson
- Height: 169 Feet 3 Inches
The four bronze lions guarding its base were later added in 1867. Nelson's Column was extensively refurbished in 2006.
The pedestal is decorated with four large bronze relief panels. But this isn't just any bronze, they are made from bronze captured from French guns. The four battles they depict were British victories in which Horatio Nelson fought. They are:
- The Battle of Cape St. Vincent
- The Battle of The Nile
- The Battle of Copenhagen
- The Death Of Nelson At Trafalgar
The National Gallery
While here pop into the National Gallery. This art museum was founded in 1824 and now has a collection of over 2,300 paintings. It is one of the top ten most visited art museums in the world (the most visited is the Louvre in Paris).
- Collection: Over 2,300 Paintings
Its remarkable collection dates from the mid-13th century to 1900. While most art museums in continental Europe were formed by nationalizing an existing royal or princely art collection, this wasn't the case for the British National Gallery.
The British government created it when they purchased 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein in 1824 any of its subsequent collections are the result of private donations.
The building itself was built from 1832 to 1838 although only the facade facing Trafalgar Square is still essentially unchanged with much of the rest of the building having been expanded piece by piece since then.
- Admission: Free of Charge
- Hours: Open Daily 10 am–6 pm
- Fridays: Open Until 9 pm