National Gallery, London

National Gallery, London (must see)

For anyone with even a passing interest in art, placing a visit to this museum high on your London to-do list is a must, as it ranks among the world's premier art institutions. Boasting over 2,300 masterpieces, including works by renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Turner, Monet, van Gogh, Picasso, and many more, it's a true treasure trove of artistry. Enter through the grand portico that offers views of the north side of Trafalgar Square, and you'll find yourself immersed in a collection of exceptional artworks. Notably, the Sainsbury Wing, a modern structure located immediately to the left, primarily focuses on medieval art, and tends to be less crowded.

A full day could easily be spent exploring the riches within this institution. Among its most famous highlights are Hans Holbein's "The Ambassadors", a portrait of two affluent visitors from France surrounded by symbol-laden objects, including a captivatingly distorted giant skull at the base, revealed only from a certain angle; Jan van Eyck's "The Arnolfini Portrait", featuring a solemn couple holding hands, with a fish-eye mirror behind them mysteriously illuminating unseen details; Leonardo da Vinci's magnificent altarpiece "The Virgin of the Rocks", commissioned in 1480; and J. M. W. Turner's "Rain, Steam, and Speed—The Great Western Railway", a portrayal of the mystical dynamism of the steam age amidst rain, steam, and mist (be sure to spot the fleeing hare).

The National Gallery hosts special exhibitions, several of which occur annually and are often major events. These exhibitions typically require tickets, so booking in advance is advisable. However, admission to the permanent collection is always free. Guided tours of the collection and curator's talks are regularly held both within the gallery and online; you can find detailed information on the website.

Why You Should Visit:
Enjoy free admission and explore numerous rooms filled with exquisite art by a variety of artists, including some of the most renowned in history. You have the option to take photographs or use an audio guide to enhance your experience.

Tip:
For a dining experience in an artistic setting, consider the on-site restaurant at the National Gallery. It offers a unique menu that includes Colchester native oysters, alongside more traditional choices like cakes, sandwiches, teas, coffee, and more. The National Gallery also offers its own themed afternoon tea, with the menu and theme changing depending on the current exhibition. Regardless of the menu, you can always count on scones being a part of the experience. Afternoon tea is available daily, and no prior booking is required.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in London. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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National Gallery on Map

Sight Name: National Gallery
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in London, England

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