Trafalgar Square in the center of London is located at the intersection of the main metropolitan streets of Westminster, the historic city center.
Trafalgar Square – London’s largest intersection
Not the most beautiful, but majestic and spacious, Trafalgar Square appeared in the capital of Great Britain not so long ago, at the beginning of the 19th century. In its place, from the 13th century, there were royal stables and a poultry house serving the royal palace.
History of education
At the beginning of the 19th century, the stables were demolished, and the wasteland that had arisen in the center of the city was turned into a place for public festivities, having arranged here in 1843 a large square 166 m long and 116 m wide.
The money for the construction of the largest square in the capital, named in memory of the brilliant victory of the British fleet over the ships of Napoleon, was collected by subscription. The battle under the leadership of Admiral Horatio Nelson, which made England “the ruler of the seas” for a hundred years, took place at the Spanish Cape Trafalgar in 1805.
England sank two dozen Spanish and French ships, while managing not to lose a single one of its own. Since then, France abandoned plans to attack England.
Multifunctionality of Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is popular and beloved by Londoners and visitors alike. Since the opening, the space has been reconstructed several times: the cover has been changed, the fountains have been rebuilt, the passage in front of the National Gallery has been removed, and the pedestrian space has been expanded.
Here Prime Minister Churchill announced the end of World War II. There was a clock that counted down to the start of the London 2012 Olympics.
People rest on the square, watch sports events and film premieres, organize rallies and protests, festivities and concerts. Ballet performances and opera arias, sporting events and film premieres are shown on large screens.
Trafalgar Square is a favorite New Year and Christmas destination. Since 1947, a giant spruce has been brought from Norway and installed on the square. There are so many people that the area, designed for 20,000 people, does not accommodate everyone, so since 2014, the authorities have been selling tickets for the entrance.
On the first Thursday in December, the Christmas lights are solemnly lit on the tree – 500 white bulbs. The ceremony is accompanied by a choir of 1000 participants. The Christmas tree delights Londoners and tourists alike until January 6th.
Every year on October 21, the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, a parade in honor of Nelson is held on the square with an orchestra, recitation and a minute of silence. On November 11 each year, the Royal British Legion holds a Silence in the Square event in memory of those killed in the world wars.
In 2007, the space of the square turned green – the cover was covered with turf and grass to show the need for urban landscaping, after which it returned to the usual gray color.
Near the square there are many hotels, cafes and even several embassies of foreign states. The square is open to the public 24 hours a day.
Doves in the central square
A local attraction is pigeons: bird nests dot the slopes of the surrounding mountains. The pigeons moved from there to London, having chosen Trafalgar Square.
Tourists were happy to feed the “feathery Londoners”, and traders in the square sold bird food. Over time, so many blue pigeons were bred that sometimes a person had nowhere to step: the number of birds reached 35 thousand. The stunningly beautiful sight in Trafalgar Square has become intolerable.
The birds carried dangerous diseases, and cleaning up their droppings was a burden on the London budget. The poultry food vendors were removed from the square, and the feeding of pigeons has been banned since 2007, with a fine for violating the rule. Today there are few pigeons in the square, and Londoners simply admire the touchingly awkward feathered visitors.
Architecture of Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square epitomizes the national pride of the British for their invincible fleet and embodies the indomitable fighting spirit of the British. Its architecture is beautiful and attractive.
Column of Admiral Nelson
In the center of the architectural ensemble of the square is the column of Nelson, the victorious admiral, at the foot of which there is a square platform, bordered on four sides by fountains and 6-meter bronze figures of lions on a rectangular pedestal. (The lion is the symbol of the British monarchy).
The gigantic monument, the height of a 17-story building, is crowned with a 6-meter statue of a military leader mortally wounded in the largest battle of Trafalgar, which brought victory to the British fleet.
The top of the column, carved out of gray granite, is decorated with a bronze ornament in the form of leaves, the base of the quadrangle – with bronze bas-reliefs, which reflect the main milestones of the admiral’s biography. Bronze for decorating the monument was obtained by melting down captured cannons captured by the admiral’s troops.
At every corner of Trafalgar Square there are massive plinths with statues of worthy British people. The first pedestal is occupied by a statue of King George IV , depicted in Roman robes on horseback, during whose reign England strengthened the naval dominions, fighting the army of Napoleon. The monument was created during the life of the king.
On the southwest plinth is a monument to General Charles Napier, commander-in-chief of the Indian campaign who conquered the province of Cid. The 4-meter statue of the general was created with money collected by subscription.
The western pedestal is occupied by a statue of General Henry Havelock, who became famous for his bravery and won the love of soldiers during the colonization of India.
The fourth pedestal was intended for William IV, the oldest king of Britain, but there was no money to create the statue. For 150 years, the foundation was waiting for its owner, and in 1994, the chairman of the Royal Society of Arts, Prue Leith, proposed placing modern sculptures on an empty pedestal.
In 1999, a life-size marble statue of Christ appeared here. In 2000, a huge head was erected on a pedestal, crushed by a book, from where a tree with the name “In spite of history” rose up.
In 2001, the “Untitled Monument” appeared on Trafalgar Square – an exact copy of the fourth pedestal, which was erected on it. In 2005 – a sculpture depicting the artist Alison Lapper , who was born without hands, which did not prevent her from becoming a master artist, which became a symbol of the infinity of the possibilities of the human spirit and hard work.
Later, other sculptures were placed on the pedestal:
- a huge transparent bottle, inside of which is a model of the flagship of Admiral Nelson “Victory” with variegated sails;
- a cheerful skeleton of a horse with a display tape tied to its front leg, receiving broadcast from the London Stock Exchange;
- a flashy mock-up of a hotel made of colored glass;
- the figure of a bronze boy on a toy horse – a symbol of growing up;
- the figure of a massive blue rooster, 5 meters high – a symbol of the strength and renewal of Great Britain;
- a huge hand with a 10-meter finger raised up , meaning “Everything is good!”
The ambitious project was carried out from July 6 to October 14, 2009, when 2,400 people received their “glory hour” on the podium. For 100 days, the British, replacing each other on a pedestal every hour, were in the role of a “statue”.
However, most of the time the last pedestal is empty: Londoners cannot decide which of their compatriots is worthy of this honor.
Monument to Charles I
The London monument to Charles I is the center of the capital, its zero kilometer, from which the distance to any point in the city is calculated. The equestrian monument was unveiled during the king’s life in 1630 by order of the Lord Treasurer Weston. Karl is depicted on a horse, like a knight, stopping for a minute and casting a last glance at the place he was leaving.
Charles I, who ruled the people for 24 years, was a narrow-minded narcissist who believed that kings were holders of divine power and were not subject to human judgment. Contrary to the interests of the state, the king followed only his own desires.
Any dissent of citizens, imposed with unbearable taxes, suppressed with fire and sword. During his reign, the English bourgeois revolution took place, and by decision of parliament, the king, convicted of treason to the state, was executed on January 30, 1649.
After the execution of the king, Cromwell ordered the destruction of the statue, but the bronze sculpture was saved by the coppersmith Rivette: he hid it, disobeying the order. History took a sharp turn, returning the monarchs to the throne: the son of the executed, Charles II, came to power. It was then that the statue was installed again – at the place where the regicides were executed.
Now the townspeople admire the statue of the infamous king, sitting in light armor on a horse; in the left hand – the reins, in the right – the symbol of royal power. Every year on January 30, on the day of the execution of the monarch, flowers are laid at the monument, Londoners and guests of the city come here to honor his memory.
Arch of the Admiralty
A magnificently decorated building that stretches from one side of the road to the other in a semicircle. Erected in 1910 at the request of King Edward VII, who wanted to immortalize the era of the reign of his mother, Queen Victoria. The building was erected for 5 years.
There are 5 openings in the arch, the central span – with beautiful cast-iron gates – is intended for the royal family corteges. The arches to the left and right of the central one are for the passage of cars, small ones at the edges are for pedestrians.
Initially, members of the military ministries sat here, but since 2013, the gigantic structure has been handed over for a century-long lease to a Spanish entrepreneur, where he set up a hotel and a private club.
St. Martin’s Church
The church, erected in Trafalgar Square in 1724, was once located far from the city center. It is crowned with a bell tower with a spire of 59 m, the facade is emphasized by 6 columns, along the perimeter there are rows of pilasters.
There is not a cross on the spire, but a golden crown – an indication that this is a “royal” church. The snow-white building is a famous parish church in London: church services are attended by residents of Buckingham Palace and the royal family.
Inside the temple is light, spacious and solemn, ceilings – with stucco and gilding , colonnades and magnificent paintings by Italian artists delight the eye. It has its own choir and chamber orchestra, and concerts of organ and chamber music are regularly held. The 12 bells of the temple merge in a harmonious chime.
In the crypt – an underground vaulted room – a dining room for the poor.
In the building of the National Gallery, in chronological order, 2 thousand paintings by famous painters are presented: Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Monet. The entrance to the gallery is free.
Nearby – the National Portrait Gallery with portraits and sculptural images of English monarchs.
The fountains in the square were opened in 1845 and are powered by a steam engine. According to the official version, they remove the heat from the overheated covering of the square, according to the unofficial version, they prevent political activists from gathering a large crowd of people, occupying a fairly wide space.
In 2009, the fountains were reconstructed, installed with LED lighting and decorated with bronze sculptures of tritons, mermaids and dolphins. The jets fly up 24 meters in the shape of a lily, shimmering with many colors. Trafalgar Square is visited by 5 million tourists annually.