Things to see and do - London
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London In Love :
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W London Leicester Square from259 £Book
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London In Love
London In LovePedestrian, 4 km, 3 days
Some suggestions for planning the perfect romantic date, strolling in and around the west-end.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
This world-famous square with its iconic statue, fountains and the National Gallery, is at the top of Whitehall which runs down to the Palace of Westminster. Trafalgar Square serves as a backdrop for political demonstrations and is the setting each year for a huge Norwegian Christmas tree, and New Year's Eve festivities as revellers await the sound of Big Ben striking midnight.
The Church was built by Gibbs between 1722 and 1726. It has the appearance of a baroque building with an elegant appearance but lacking a little unity. The interior decor is harmonious with a hint of rococo. Its famous not only for its architecture but also, since the 1930s, as a refuge for the homeless. The Church has also given its name to a chamber orchestra known worldwide the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, which extends a long tradition of classical concerts.
The focal point of Trafalgar Square, the perennially popular National Gallery is one of the capital's main attractions. Its collection of European painting is world class. From its portico, there is a splendid view of the square and Whitehall. With many regular visitors returning here again and again, the National Gallery is located close to the West End's cinemas, theatres and other attractions.
Founded in 1856, the National Portrait Gallery has since 1896 occupied a late-19C Italian Renaissance-style building neighbouring the National Gallery. Its extraordinary collection of over 5 000 portraits of famous Britons provides a unique perspective on the nation's history from the time of Henry VII to the present day. It's worth dining in its restaurant for the panoramic London view; visitors can also explore the collection online thanks to recent technological innovation.
This pedestrianised square surrounded by restaurants and cinemas is incredibly vibrant. In the middle is a fountain erected in 1874 in memory of Shakespeare, opposite the statue of Charlie Chaplin by John Doubleday (1980). Leicester Square was once a garden in front of the residence of the Sydneys, Earls of Leicester, standing on the north side. In the 18C, this square became an elegant location where prosperous artists like Reynolds and Hogarth lived.
Originally a convent garden and subsequently a residential district conceived by Inigo Jones in the 17C, this is now an area of continuous hustle and bustle. It was already renowned for pleasurable pursuits by the 18C, which saw the opening of the Royal Opera House and a proliferation of coffee houses and clubs. Around its ever-busy Piazza, its cafes draw in the sightseers by day, while its restaurants feed the theatre-goers by night.
The present theatre was built after the fire of 1856. It was designed especially for opera and ballet with a main hall of 2000 seats and is famous for the quality of its acoustics. It forms a group with the Floral Hall alongside, built by the same architect to serve as a concert hall with small rooms. Since 1946 the opera house has played host to the Sadler's Wells Ballet which, 10 years later under a Charter of the Queen, became The Royal Ballet.
Inspired by the palladianism of Inigo Jones, this 18C building presents a narrow frontage onto the Strand. Flanked by two lateral wings, the main part of the building is composed by a suite known as the Fine Rooms on account of their elegant proportions and stucco ceilings. Its Thames frontage is made up of a series of massive arches and offers fine river views. Somerset House is home to three muesums and the Courtauld Institute of Arts.