One of London’s most iconic landmarks, Trafalgar Square has been central to life in the capital for well over a century.
Public celebrations, political protests and community gatherings have long taken place in the square, which is named in honour of the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain in 1805.
Nelson’s Column and the lions
The square’s focal point is Nelson’s Column, a 170-ft tall Corinthian column topped by a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who commanded the British fleet during the battle.
At the bottom are four bronze relief panels cast from captured French guns. They depict a number of naval battles involving British forces, including the Battle of Trafalgar.
Three lions – also made out of bronze from French and Spanish ships – are mounted on stone plinths nearer the ground. A fourth plinth, which remained empty for many years, is now used to display contemporary works of art.
Other notable features
A number of other famous British figures are commemorated in the square. Busts of three more admirals – Lord Jellicoe, Lord Beatty and Second World War First Sea Lord Admiral Cunningham – lie against the north wall.
At the south side of the square is a bronze equestrian statue of Charles I by Hubert Le Sueur, which was cast in 1633.
Trafalgar Square was once famous for its pigeons, which used to flock to the area to be fed by members of the public. Feeding the birds was banned in the early 21st century, however, as their droppings disfigured artwork and were considered a health hazard.
Events in Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a must-see for people travelling to London, and it also hosts a wide range of events that are central to the city’s cultural life.
Upcoming events during 2015 include the Royal Opera House BP Big Screens, West End Live, Eid Festival, National Paralympic Day, Africa on the Square and Diwali, rounded off by the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Due to its central location, Trafalgar Square is well served by transport links. Charing Cross underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines) has an exit in the square, while Embankment and Piccadilly stations are also nearby.
It is also served by the following bus routes: 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, 453.