Yet another of London’s iconic landmarks, Trafalgar Square
is situated at Charing Cross, London’s most important intersection. The square gets its name from the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. For the British, the victory over Napoleon’s forces was simultaneously flawless and Pyrrhic. Not a single British ship was lost, compared to 22 French/Spanish vessels. The battle cemented Britain’s naval supremacy. But it also cost them their greatest military leader: Admiral Lord Nelson. Architect John Nash laid out the square in 1820 and it has become an important part of the fabric of London. It’s an important gathering point – demonstrations are held here, as well as London’s official New Year’s celebration.
The square was once congested and pigeon-infested, but thanks to recent efforts has been transformed into a dynamic ‘World Square’. In 2003, the street at the north end of the square was closed, making pedestrian access easier. At one point, more than 35,000 pigeons lived here, but in 2005 the sale of bird seed was banned to reduce the numbers, and falcons were also used to scare them away. The pigeons have now largely disappeared, so it is safe to bring a snack. Trafalgar’s centerpiece is the iconic Nelson column, eternally guarded by four lion statues. No trip to London is complete without a trip to the National Gallery, located on the square’s north end, so you will no doubt pass through here. It’s a great place to relax for a bit and do some people watching.
Metro: Charing Cross (Bakerloo, Northern)