Friday, July 3, 2009

Trafalgar Square

The very hub of London, this is Britain's most famous square and the scene of many political protests. A 144-ft. tall column surmounted by a statue of Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) dominates the square, which is named after the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a triumph by Admiral Lord Nelson, who died at the moment of victory; the supremacy of England’s navy was proved (Britannia rules the waves!), when the French and Spanish sacrificed twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost.

As you walk around this square, note that most of the fabled and ferocious dive-bombing pigeons are gone, since it’s now illegal to feed them. Recent improvements include pedestrianizing the southern portion of the square. Still here, however, are the enormous bronze lions guarding the column and the twin clover-shaped pools and fountains.

This is the heart of London where thousands amass on New Year's Eve to ring in another year. Stairs to the National Gallery, one of the world’s great art museums, lead up from the northern side of the square, and just to the east is the significant St-Martin-in-the-Fields church.

This 1903 engraving shows the National Gallery on the left and St-Martin-in-the-Fields church on the right.

Note: All distances to and from London are measured from Charing Cross, adjacent to Trafalgar Square.

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