Covent Garden Piazza

Square in The West End

Image by Will Jones Lonely Planet

London’s fruit-and-vegetable wholesale market until 1974 is now mostly the preserve of visitors, who flock here to shop among the quaint old arcades, eat and drink in any of the myriad cafes and restaurants, browse through eclectic market stalls, toss coins at street performers pretending to be statues and traipse through the fun London Transport Museum. On the square's western side is handsome St Paul’s Church, built in 1633.

When the Earl of Bedford commissioned Inigo Jones to design the piazza, he asked for a simple church 'not much better than a barn'; the architect promised him and delivered ‘the handsomest barn in England’. St Paul's Church has long been regarded as the actors’ church for its associations with all the nearby theatres, and contains memorials to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward, Peter O'Toole, Vivien Leigh and even Boris Karloff. The first Punch and Judy show took place in front of St Paul's in 1662; note the pub of that name with the balcony opposite.