Trafalgar Square is a public square that features some of London’s top attractions, from galleries and historic buildings to statues and monuments. It also plays host to a range of events throughout the year that are supported by the Greater London Authority, who manage the square. During its history, the square has been a place for protests, demonstrations and large-scale events, which continues to this day.

Getting to Trafalgar Square

By Tube

Charing Cross (on the Bakerloo and Northern lines) is the closest Tube station, with an entrance/exit on Trafalgar Square.

The following stations are within a few minutes’ walk:

  • Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines)
  • Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines)
  • Embankment (Bakerloo, Northern, District and Circle lines)

By bus : Visit the Transport for London bus maps page to access information on bus routes from Trafalgar Square, for both day-time and night buses.

By mainline train : Charing Cross mainline rail station is about a three minute walk from Trafalgar Square.

Plan your journey using Transport for London’s Journey Planner.

History of Trafalgar Square

14th to 17th century: Most of the area now occupied by Trafalgar Square was the courtyard of the Great Mews stabling, which served Whitehall Palace.

1812: The architect John Nash began to develop ‘a new street from Charing Cross to Portland Place’. He wanted it to be a cultural space open to the public.

1830: The site was officially named Trafalgar Square.

1832: Work began on the National Gallery.

1838: Sir Charles Barry presented a plan to develop Trafalgar Square. This included the Nelson memorial statue and two fountains.

1843: Nelson’s Column, designed by William Railton, was erected

1845: The fountains were built.

1867: Sir Edwin Landseer designed the bronze lions placed on guard at the base of Nelson’s Column.

1876: The Imperial Measures were set into the north terrace wall (read more about this below).

Trafalgar Square today

In July 2003 a huge project to transform Trafalgar Square was completed. The north terrace was pedestrianised, so that the square is now linked to the National Gallery. The changes also included a café, public toilets and a lift for disabled access.

Trafalgar Square is a centre of national democracy and protest. Rallies and demonstrations are frequently held at weekends on different political, religious and general issues. The Mayor supports this democratic tradition, and gives access to the square for such causes.

Statues and fountains

Nelson’s Column

William Railton designed the column and statue to honour Admiral Nelson, after his victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

The granite statue was sculpted by E. H. Baily. It is five metres high and stands on a bronze platform made from old guns from the Woolwich Arsenal Foundry.

The four bronze panels at the base of the column depict some of Nelson’s battles. The lions, designed by Sir Edwin Landseer, are said to protect Nelson’s Column.


The fountains were added in 1845. The mermaids, dolphins and tritons (the male figures with tails like fish) were installed later. The fountains operate on most days.

Statues and Busts

Admiral Beatty : The bronze bust by William MacMillian, Royal Academician is mounted on a granite pilaster against the north wall of the square.

Admiral Jellicoe : The bronze bust by Charles Wheeler, Associate Member of the Royal Academy is mounted on a granite pilaster against the north wall of the square.

The bronze bust by Franta Besley, is mounted on a granite pilaster against the North wall of the square.

There are four plinths for statues in the square. Bronze statues stand on three of them:

General Sir Charles James Napier : The bronze statue by G G Adams stands on a granite pedestal on the South West Corner of the square.

Major General Sir Henry Havelock : The bronze statue by W Behnes stands on a Dartmoor granite pedestal on the South East corner of the square.

King George IV : The bronze equestrian statue by Sir Francis Chantery stands on a granite pedestal to the North East corner of the square.

The Fourth Plinth

The fourth plinth, in the northwest of the square, was empty for many years. It is now managed by a Commissioning Group Panel of specialist advisors. This group guides and monitors the commissions for the plinth. The content presents world-class contemporary artworks in the public realm.

Imperial Measures

In 1876 the Imperial Measures were set into the north terrace wall. Surveyors can still check ‘Perches’, ‘Chains’ and other archaic measures against feet and yards. When the central staircase was added, the measures were relocated, and you can now find information about them outside the café on the square.

Police box

Probably the smallest police box ever built can be found on the southeast corner of the square. There was originally a lamp, built in 1826. In 1926, Scotland Yard installed a telephone line and light which the police could use to call for assistance. It is now used for storage.

Events in Trafalgar Square

Many events are hosted at Trafalgar Square, including cultural celebrations, commercial events, rallies and demonstrations, filming and photographic shoots.