Piccadilly Circus, London

Piccadilly Circus, London

Piccadilly Circus was built originally as a junction between Regent Street and Piccadilly in 1819. Back then, it was a circle roundabout up until 1886, when Shaftesbury Avenue was built and the circle was gone. But the name stuck. The name Piccadilly derives from one of the shops once present in the area, called Piccadilly Hall. Its owner, Robert Baker, was the tailor specialized in making certain collars, known as piccadills. Hence the name.

The postcard image of Piccadilly Circus is traditionally dominated by huge advertising boards mounted on the corner building of its north side. The very first illuminated sign put up there was that of Perrier mineral water in 1908. For the whole duration of WWII, Piccadilly Circus remained in total blackout and was re-lit only in 1949. The only other times the Piccadilly lights went out again were for funerals of Churchill and Princess Diana, and for the Earth Hour organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Beneath the ground, Piccadilly Circus houses two outstanding sights: Criterion Theatre and Piccadilly Circus tube station. Built in 1873, the theater is entirely underground except for box office. Back in the 19th century, during its performances fresh air had to be pumped in specially to ventilate the building from toxic fumes from the gas lights. As for the Piccadilly tube station, it is one of the few stations on London Underground network that is truly 100% underground. For a short while after its opening in 1906, the station did have an above-ground ticket office, but it was scrapped in the 1920s after the station's renovation.

Another key sight to behold in Piccadilly Circus is the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and the statue often erroneously attributed to Eros. The fountain was built in 1893 to commemorate philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury. While the statue depicts Greek god Anteros, the bow in his hand makes it look like the Greek god of love, Eros.

On the west side of Piccadilly, one can still see a relic police public call box, established in 1935, one of the few left in Britain.

Another secret treasure mounted to a wall somewhere in Piccadilly Circus is a sculpted nose - one of the Seven Noses of Soho. Legend has it that whoever finds all the seven noses, will get rich beyond measure. Wonder if any of the nearly half a million people passing here every day is after that fortune...)

*** Harry Potter Movie***
One of London’s best known landmarks recognized by its neon advertising screens, perpetual crowds and the Eros statue, Piccadilly Circus appears in the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” in one of the most memorable scenes where Harry, Hermione and Ron rush through London’s West End after fleeing from Death Eaters, who had attacked Bill’s wedding, and have a narrow escape from being run over by a quintessential London red double-decker bus. The actual spot where it took place in the movie is just in front of The Gap store, right off Piccadilly Circus, whereas in the book they ended up in Tottenham Court Road. Filming the scene in such a popular tourist location as Piccadilly Circus was a real challenge!

Why You Should Visit:
A classic, fast-paced London intersection, very centrally located, from where you can easily explore Regent St, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Coventry Garden and the West End theatre district.

Tip:
Best seen at night for maximum effect.

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 iTunes App Store or Google Play. 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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Piccadilly Circus on Map

Sight Name: Piccadilly Circus
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

Create Your Own Walk in London

Creating your own self-guided walk in London is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Harry Potter Walking Tour I

Harry Potter Walking Tour I

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London an even more popular destination now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations.

On Part I of the self-guided Happy Potter Walking Tour, you...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
London Introduction Walking Tour

London Introduction Walking Tour

London emerged as a humble settlement on the outskirts of the great Roman empire in the 40s AD. Originally known as Londinium, it was only the second incarnation of that village that survived. The first one burned to the ground at the hands of local tribesmen. In the course of two millennia since, London has evolved progressively first to become the capital of the Roman province of Britannia, then...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles
Walk around Buckingham Palace

Walk around Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, the British monarch's official residence, is a must-see for anyone visiting London, but so are the adjacent royal establishments that give a unique window into the royal way of life. On this self-guided walking tour, along with Buckingham Palace and its memorable fountain, you will visit the St. James's private royal residence, the wonderful Queen's Gallery, and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Often called England's national poet or simply "the Bard", William Shakespeare is revered as one of, if not the greatest playwright this world has ever seen. The dramas, such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth are among the finest creations in the English language, translated into every major language and performed more often than those of any other author....  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Harry Potter Walking Tour II

Harry Potter Walking Tour II

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London an even more popular destination now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations.

On Part II of the self-guided Happy Potter Walking Tour, you...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Bridges of London

Bridges of London

Around thirty bridges span the Thames river in London, each with its own story. Our self-guided walk takes you to see nine such historical structures located in the heart of the city, starting from the storied Westminster Bridge and ending at the iconic Tower Bridge.

The latter has stood over the River Thames in London since 1894 and is one of the finest, most recognizable bridges in the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 Km or 3.2 Miles

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