Trafalgar Square - London
Trafalgar Square is situated in the heart of London – hemmed in by Charing Cross, Strand, Whitehall, The Mall and the National Gallery. The Square is dominated by Nelson's Column which was erected to commemorate the famous victory (masterminded by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson ) over the French and Spanish fleets in 1805. In the 20th century Trafalgar Square became known as a place of protests, with most marches and demonstrations either terminating here of passing through. The situation of Trafalgar Square makes it a favourite UK attraction and London Attraction for visitors to British capital.
The 150 ft column is guarded at the base by four, large bronze lions, designed and sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer. Legend has it that the lions were made with bronze from French cannon captured at the Battle of Trafalgar. The two fountains in Trafalgar Square are relatively recent editions; designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and put in place in 1939 – just in time to be turned off for the duration of WWII. Nelson's Column is considered to be such an emblematic British icon that the Germans had plans to dismantle it and ship it to Berlin if they had invaded England during WWII.
The corners of the square are dominated by four plinths, three of which house statues while the fourth plinth in the northwest corner of the Square was empty for many years until it was decided to exhibit pieces of contemporary art on it – to be changed at regular intervals. The lawn to the front of the National Gallery is home to two statues – one of King James II, the other of George Washington.
More animated inhabitants of the Square, did until recent times, include swarms of pigeons (in fact they were rock doves), that were riddled with avian disease, but still inexplicably were a source of joy for tourists as they let them eat birdseed off of their heads and hands. Former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, banned the sale of birdseed in the Square in 2000, and brought old bye laws into force in 2003 banning the feeding of birds there or in adjacent areas. The result of this is that today there are few, if any pigeons in and around the Square, making it a much more user-friendly space in the heart of the metropolis.
Trafalgar Square has often been at the centre of the news throughout the years. In 1886 it was the site of the Black Monday unemployment riots; in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties it was the destination for many marching for nuclear disarmament, and in 1990 it was scene of the Poll Tax Riots that led to the removal of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from office. On a happier note Trafalgar Square was the centre of the VE Day celebrations at the end of WWII, and serves as a focal point for revellers every year on New Years Eve as thousand gather here to see in the New Year.
Getting to Trafalgar Square :
By train: Charing Cross Station
By tube: Charing Cross Station (Bakerloo, Northern and Jubilee Lines)
By bus: Routes 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, 453