Great Place Wednesday: Trafalgar Square; London, UK

With the London Olympics ongoing, its only appropriate to visit the psychological heart of London: Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square is literally at the crossroads of London’s primary axes, also at almost the precise center of the Greater London area.  Once lying at the edge of the City of Westminster, today Trafalgar Square lies at the crossroads of the main routes between Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral & Parliament, the City of London, and within walking distance of many of the institutions that London is most well-known for.

Once referred to as Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square was constructed as an urban revitalization project on the former site of the Kings Mews (stables).  This image shows what the area of Trafalgar Square would have looked like in about 1562, when St. Martin in the Fields would have been “in the fields” outside the City of London and Westminster.

Area of Charing Cross, approximately 1750.  Note “the Royal Mewse” in upper left, current site of Trafalgar Square.

Named for the British victory over the French at the Battle of Trafalgar, the center of the square boasts a 170′ tall monument to Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at Trafalgar in 1805.

Flanking the square are many important institutions, including the church of St. Martin in the Fields, the National Portrait Gallery, Canada House, and the Admiralty Arch, which marks the entrance to the Mall that leads to Buckingham.

Lions at the base of Nelson’s Column.

View of Nelson’s Column from Whitehall.