Trafalgar Square, London

Trafalgar Square, London (must see)

Trafalgar Square is a #1 square in Britain and is as close as you can get to the heart of London. Charing Cross, the small traffic island south of Trafalgar, is technically where all distances to London are measured from. Speaking of measures, the Imperial Standard measures used in the UK prior to 1965, such as inches, feet, yards, links, chains, perches and poles, are all found in Trafalgar Square as well. In 1876 they were installed in the northern terrace wall, but in 2003 were relocated behind the cafe and placed along the steps, after the north side of the square was made pedestrian.

The story of Charing Cross itself is quite remarkable and starts in 1290 when Eleanor, the wife of king Edward I, died and her body was taken from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey. On the way, the procession stopped at 12 different locations including the village of Charing. At each of those stops, a memorial Eleanor Cross was erected. The memorial cross in Charing was eventually destroyed during the Civil War in the 17th century and was rebuilt only in the Victorian era, in the 1860s. Mistakenly, however, they put it in London, outside Charing Cross Station, and not in the Charing village.

Trafalgar Square owes its name to Admiral Lord Nelson who died on 21 October 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar. That battle was part of a Napoleonic war and saw British, led by Admiral Nelson, take on the combined French and Spanish fleet. The Royal Navy enjoyed a remarkable victory that day, commemorated since as the greatest victory in its history. In memory of that event, the name “Trafalgar Square” was coined in 1835.

Eight years later, another tribute to Lord Nelson – Nelson's Column – was erected in the center of the square. The column was built of Devon granite and adorned, around its base, with four bronze reliefs depicting Nelson's most famous battles: St Vincent, Copenhagen, The Nile, and Trafalgar. Four guardian lions at its foot appeared in 1868 and were made initially of stone. The ones we see today are cast in bronze and replace the originals considered not impressive enough. The bronze statues were created by sculptor Edwin Landseer and modeled on real lion corpses to ensure ultimate physiological accuracy. Despite that, however, a serious blunder was committed about the lions' backs. In real life, the back of a lying lion is always convex, not concave, as it is in the sculpture.

In 1845, in order to reduce space for public gatherings in Trafalgar Square, two fountains were added, designed by Charles Barry. Eventually, they had to be replaced with new fountains, while the original old ones were gifted to Canada. To oversee public gatherings in Trafalgar, in 1926 a one-man police phone box was installed in its south east corner. Today, it is used solely by cleaners as a storage room.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to relax over an evening, surrounded by so many traditional London buildings.

Tip:
Go sit on the steps as the sun starts to set, take in the noises of London...
...or use Trafalgar Square as a starting point for London's attractions.
Sight description based on wikipedia

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of London, England within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Trafalgar Square on Map

Sight Name: Trafalgar Square
Sight Location: London, England
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) containing this sight: City Orientation Walk  

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.
Bloomsbury Museums, Part 1

Bloomsbury Museums, Part 1

There are over 240 museums in London and they welcome about 42 million annual visitors nationwide. This wonderful tour will lead you to the most famous and significant museums of London Bloomsbury area, such as British Museum, Charles Dickens Museum, London Canal Museum and others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
West End Nightlife

West End Nightlife

Be prepared for the exciting, throbbing sensation of London's nightlife, one of the best in the world. You will find everything you are looking for: trendy clubs, hot atmosphere and exclusive drinks. Follow this London West End nightlife tour to get the party started!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

Born in Portsmouth in 1812, Charles John Huffam Dickens was the second child to arrive in a big family of his father, a Naval clerk. At the age of three, Dickens traveled to London along with his family, upon which two years later they moved to Chatham in Kent. Starting circa 1840 until his death in 1870, Dickens remained the most famous and popular writer in the world. He authored some of...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.0 km
Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

All across the globe William Shakespeare is referred to as the preeminent writer in the English language and the leading dramatist. His London was a very small world, and the theatrical world within that was even smaller. This 3-hours walk will take you to the significant Shakespeare places in London.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of the must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades and from snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street there are a host of shops selling items which typically depict this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs for yourself or gift for friends, here are a few ideas to give you some great inspiration.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

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: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of their must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades to snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs...