Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, established in the early 19th century around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. The square’s name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar, Spain.
The square is a popular tourist attraction and a venue for various events and celebrations throughout the year. Some of the main features of the square are:
- Nelson’s Column: A 52-metre (169-foot) tall monument to Admiral Horatio Nelson, who commanded the British fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar and died from his wounds on board his ship, HMS Victory. The column is topped by a statue of Nelson and surrounded by four bronze lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer.
- National Gallery: A museum of Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and many others. The gallery occupies the entire north side of the square and offers free admission to its permanent collection.
- St Martin-in-the-Fields: A historic Anglican church that dates back to the 13th century and is known for its classical architecture, musical concerts and social services. The church is located on the northeast corner of the square and has a prominent spire that can be seen from various parts of London.
- Canada House and South Africa House: Two prominent buildings that house the diplomatic missions of Canada and South Africa respectively. They are located on the west and east sides of the square and display their national flags and symbols.
- Fourth Plinth: An empty pedestal that was originally intended to hold an equestrian statue of William IV, but was never completed. Since 1999, the plinth has been used to display temporary artworks by contemporary artists, such as Antony Gormley, Yinka Shonibare and David Shrigley. The artworks are chosen by a commission and change every 18 months.
Trafalgar Square is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no admission fee or ticket required to visit the square or its monuments. However, some events or activities may require booking or payment in advance. For example, guided tours of the National Gallery or St Martin-in-the-Fields may have a charge or require reservation.
To get to Trafalgar Square, you can use various modes of public transport, such as buses, trains or underground. The nearest underground station is Charing Cross, which is served by the Bakerloo and Northern lines. Other nearby stations are Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines), Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines) and Embankment (Bakerloo, Northern, District and Circle lines). You can also take buses that stop along Whitehall, Strand or Pall Mall, which are adjacent to the square.
Some tips for visiting Trafalgar Square are:
- Check the official website (www.london.gov.uk/trafalgarsquare) for information on upcoming events, exhibitions or closures that may affect your visit.
- Avoid feeding or touching the pigeons that flock to the square, as they may carry diseases or cause damage to the monuments.
- Respect the rules and regulations of the square and its surroundings, such as not climbing on the statues or fountains, not littering or smoking, and not making excessive noise or disturbance.
- Enjoy the cultural and historical attractions of the square and its vicinity, such as visiting the National Gallery or St Martin-in-the-Fields, watching street performers or artists, or taking photos of the iconic landmarks.
Trafalgar Square is one of London’s most famous and vibrant places to visit. Whether you are interested in art, history, politics or entertainment, you will find something to suit your taste and curiosity in this remarkable square.