The unmistakable Trafalgar Square has the distinction of being London’s largest city square. It is frequently described as the very heart of the city of London. Even as long ago as the Middle Ages the square has functioned as a gathering place for local residents. The most recognized element of the site is the tall column at its centre, which honours Admiral Nelson.
The site was formerly known as Charing Cross. From the time of the 13th century onwards, the location was used for royal duties. The Prince Regent requested John Nash, a prominent architect to redesign the locale, but sadly the latter died before being able to do so. Thereafter the work was completed by Sir Charles Barry who also designed the Houses of Parliament.
Taking pride of place at the square is the imposing Nelson’s Column. This well-known monument commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar when Admiral Horatio Nelson’s fleet defeated French forces off the coast of Spain. Nelson was mortally wounded in this encounter.
The magnificent Corinthian column dating to 1842 is about 170 feet tall; at its pinnacle stands an 18 foot statue of the Admiral. The column is flanked on four sides by huge statues of lions added subsequently in 1868. The square also contains numerous other statues and two handsome fountains.
Trafalgar Square is flanked by numerous buildings of great historical and cultural significance. Noteworthy among these is the National Gallery, which was built in the 1830s. It boasts a collection of over 2,300 paintings, encompassing works by Leonardo da Vinci, Renoir, Van Gogh and Monet.
At one corner of the square is the parish church known as St. Martin-in-the Fields. This historic church was constructed in 1721. Its design was employed as a model for numerous other churches, including many in the United States. Interestingly this place of worship was the fourth constructed at the site; the initial shrine was constructed in the 13th century. With all of these attractions, a visit to Trafalgar Square is always a rewarding experience.
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Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.