Changing The Guard | Things to do in London / Trafalgar Square

Nelsons Column, Trafalgar Square, LondonTrafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is not only home to Nelson's column, and other statues, it is also a popular vibrant open space enjoyed by Londoners and visitors alike.

In the lead up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond you can be sure Trafalgar Square will be presenting a packed programme of free events and celebrations as London looks forward to a summer like no other.

Trafalgar Square is used for a wide range of activities including: special events and celebrations like the Royal Wedding, Olympics One Year to Go, St Patrick's Day, Chinese New Year and popular community events..

For years, thousands of revellers celebrating the start of a New Year have gathered in Trafalgar Square. These New Year celebrations were not an official event as Authorities were concerned that actively encouraging more party goers would cause over crowding.

Since 2005, a firework display centred on the London Eye and the South Bank of the Thames has been provided as an alternative venue for New Year's eve celebrations.

Trafalgar Square's large central area is bounded by roads on three side and a terrace to the north in front of the National Gallery.

Dominating Trafalgar Square is Nelson's column, guarded by four huge bronze lions. The column, with its 5.5m statue of Nelson on top, is 56 m high. Four bronze panels at the base of the column depict some of Nelson’s battles. The castings, for these panels, are from guns captured in battles.

History of Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square was originally the courtyard of the Great Mews stables, which served Whitehall Palace from the 14th to the late 17th century. The Mews area was cleared in the early 18th century.

In 1812 the architect John Nash set about developing a new street from Charing Cross to Portland Place with an open square open to the public. In 1830, it was officially named Trafalgar Square.

Nelson's Column was erected, in Trafalgar Square, in 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson's victory over the French at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

View accross Trafalgar Square towards Nelsons column
Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square Statues

In each of the four corners of Trafalgar square there are plinths to carry sculpture.

The larger northern plinths were designed to have equestrian statues, King George IV occupies one of these.

The other, known as the Fourth Plinth, remained empty for many years until the last years of the 20th century when a commission, formed to find a use for it, decided to use it for the temporary display of artworks.

The two southern plinths carry sculptures of Henry Havelock and Charles James Napier.

Getting to Trafalgar Square

Public transport is the easiest way of getting to Trafalgar Square.

By Tube
Stations closest to the Trafalgar Square are:

Charing Cross ( Bakerloo and Northern Line )
is the closest station, with an exit on Trafalgar Square

Tube Stations within a few minutes walk :

Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines)
Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines)
Embankment (Bakerloo, Northern, and Circle lines)

By Train
The mainline station closest to Trafalgar Square:
Charing Cross ( mainline rail station )
about a 3 minute walk from Trafalgar Square.

By Bus
The following bus routes go past Trafalgar Square:

Routes 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 53, 77A, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, 453

Routes 22 & 94 terminate nearby at Piccadilly Circus

Night buses ( serving Trafalgar Square )
Routes starting / ending near Trafalgar square:
53, N2, N5, N18, N20, N21, N26, N29, N41, N47, N50, N89, N91, N97, N279, and N381

Routes that go past Trafalgar Square:
6, 12, 23, 24, 88, 139, 176, 453, N3, N9, N11, N13, N15, N36, N44, N52, N77, N155, N159, N343.

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Statue of George IV in Trafalgar SquareKing George IV ( 1762 - 1830 )

This equestrian statue of King George IV, was created by Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey for the top of Marble Arch but it was finally erected in Trafalgar Square.

George IV was 48 when he became Regent in 1811, as a result of the illness of his father, George III.

George was an outstanding collector and builder who acquired many important works of art (now in the Royal Collection), built the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, and transformed Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.

George's fondness for pageantry helped to develop the ceremonial side of the monarchy.

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