Trafalgar Square in London – The Heart of the City

Trafalgar Square - 1While on a trip to London in May of 2006, we had to stop and check out Trafalgar Square. It was really amazing, even though it was cold and we got rained on quite a bit. Lol  It is an interesting little square with a lot of history. The square contains a large central area with roadways on three sides and a terrace to the north, in front of the National Gallery. The roads around the square form part of the A4, a major road running west of the City of London. The square was formerly surrounded by a one-way traffic system, but apparently, in 2003 some work was done which reduced the width of the roads and closed the northern side to traffic

Trafalgar Square - LionWhile doing research I learned that the square was originally called Charing. Later it became known as Charing Cross, after a memorial cross on the square. The nearby underground station (the ‘tube’) is still named Charing Cross. The name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, the British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.

Trafalgar Square - Nelson ColumnObviously, the main thing we wanted to see, and that you can’t miss, is the Nelson Column. Located in the center of the square, it is flanked by fountains designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1937 and 1939 as replacements for two fountains of Peterhead granite (now in Canada) and guarded by four monumental bronze lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer.  At the top of the column is a statue of Horatio Nelson who commanded the British Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar.  It is quite interesting and we are glad we were able to see it while we were there.

Trafalgar Square - Admiralty ArchWhile the Nelson Column is impressive, the area around the square is also quite interesting.  Besides the National Gallery, which is on the north side, is St Martin-in-the-Fields Church to the east, to the southwest is The Mall leading towards Buckingham Palace via Admiralty Arch, Whitehall is to the south and the Strand to the east. Charing Cross Road passes between the National Gallery and the church.

Trafalgar Square - National-GalleryThe National Gallery museum is home to an impressive collection of paintings, spanning six centuries. You can admire works from some of the world’s most famous painters, including Rubens, Vermeer, van Gogh, Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Renoir, and Claude Monet. They had me at Monet, lol.

Trafalgar Square - Martin-in-the-Fields-ChurchIf you like churches, the Martin-in-the-Fields Church should be on your list. The church, with a large white steeple and neoclassical portico, was built in 1721 by James Gibbs and was used as a model for many churches, particularly in the United States. It is the fourth church at this site; the first was built in the thirteenth century. At the time this area was still rural, hence its name. It was nice to see.

 Trafalgar Square - UsThere are also two incredible fountains that we enjoyed looking at while we were there. Apparently, these are the second set of fountains at Trafalgar Square. The first fountains were installed as part of its development in the nineteenth century. They were replaced by the two current fountains, created in 1939 as a memorial to David Beatty and John Rushworth Jellicoe, admirals of the Royal Navy. The fountains were designed by architect Edwin Lutyens and are decorated with sculptures of dolphins, mermaids, and small sharks.

While in the square, make sure to check out the following statues and busts:

Admiral Beatty

The bronze bust by William MacMillian, Royal Academician is mounted on a granite pilaster against the north wall of the square.

 Admiral Jellicoe

The bronze bust by Charles Wheeler, Associate Member of the Royal Academy is mounted on a granite pilaster against the north wall of the square.

Admiral Cunningham

The bronze bust by Franta Besley is mounted on a granite pilaster against the North wall of the square.

 General Sir Charles James Napier

The bronze statue by G G Adams stands on a granite pedestal on the South West Corner of the square.

 Major General Sir Henry Havelock

The bronze statue by W Behnes stands on a Dartmoor granite pedestal on the South East corner of the square.

King George IV

The bronze equestrian statue by Sir Francis Chantery stands on a granite pedestal to the North East corner of the square.

If you are in London, you definitely want to stop and spend some time walking around this area. It is quite historical and very interesting. We were both glad we spent some time checking out this interesting area. Here is a website with more information and history if you are interested.

Trafalgar Square - Fountain

Trafalgar Square Visitor Information


Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN, United Kingdom


44 20 7983 4750


24 hours a day




By Tube

Charing Cross (on the Bakerloo and Northern lines) is the closest Tube station, with an entrance/exit on Trafalgar Square.

The following stations are within a few minutes walk:

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

Plan your journey using Transport for London’s Journey Planner.

By bus

Visit the Transport for London bus maps page to access information on bus routes from Trafalgar Square, for both day-time and night buses.

By mainline train

Charing Cross mainline rail station is about a three-minute walk from Trafalgar Square.

Plan your journey using Transport for London’s Journey Planner.

Safety on the square

For your safety on Trafalgar Square, 24 hours a day:

  • Uniformed and non-uniformed security staff are on patrol.
  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is in operation for public safety and crime prevention.

If you see anything unusual or suspicious please report it to one of the following:

  • Heritage Wardens or
  • Police Officer or
  • Call 101 or 999 (if urgent action is needed)
  • Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321


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