Trafalgar Square

sights / Squares & plazas

Trafalgar Square information

London , England
Getting there
Tube: Charing Cross
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In many ways Trafalgar Sq is is the centre of London, where rallies and marches take place, tens of thousands of revellers usher in the New Year and locals congregate for anything from communal open-air cinema and Christmas celebrations to various political protests. It is dominated by the 52m-high Nelson's Column and ringed by many splendid buildings, including the National Gallery and St Martin-in-the-Fields. The Nazis once planned to shift Nelson's Column to Berlin in the wake of a successful invasion.

The great square was neglected over many years, ringed with traffic and given over to flocks of feral pigeons fed by tourists and locals alike. In 2000, a scheme was launched to transform the square into the kind of space John Nash had intended it to be when he designed it in the early 19th century. Traffic was banished from the northern flank in front of the National Gallery, the pigeons were sent packing and a new pedestrian plaza built, making way for cohorts of living statues, gravity-defying Yodas and other street artistes.

Note the much-overlooked, if not quite ignored brass plaques recording the precise length of imperial units – including the yard, the perch, pole, chain and link – set into the stonework and steps below the National Gallery and dating from the 19th century.