Located in the north-east corner of Trafalgar Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields is a beautiful Georgian church which dates back to 1222. Being an innovator it was the location of the first religious broadcast and its musical tradition includes performances by Handel and Mozart, and the founding of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. The church organises daily church services and free music every weekday. Ticketed evening concerts also take place from Thursday-Saturday. The church is worth a visit as it features brass rubbing downstairs as well as a shop, a free exhibition in the Gallery and a café that offers a meal or a Wednesday Jazz Night in the Café in the Crypt. The original 13th century church was located literally in the open fields between London and Westminster.
However, the present church was built one hundred years before Trafalgar Square came up and it was designed by James Gibbs. It had a revolutionary design which acted as a template for colonial churches all over America. The unique design features were the dominating steeple and the columned face of the building. There are galleries in the interior of the church and it has two tiers of windows. Gilded and painted plaster panels are featured on the ceiling. It is the official church of Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace. Famous people buried in the church include Thomas Chippendale, Joshua Reynolds and William Hogarth. The church gave shelter to homeless soldiers during the First World War and during the Second World War its vaults were used as an air raid shelter. Currently, the church indulges in a lot of charity work including providing meals for London’s homeless. It has an acclaimed choir and it holds concerts with visiting musicians and orchestras.
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Visitors can visit the church free and besides exploring it, they can find many more things to do in its vicinity.
Trafalgar Square: A must on the list of things to do in London for visitors, Trafalgar Square is where Nelson’s Column is located, commemorating Admiral Horatio Nelson who died in the Battle of Trafalgar. Besides his statue, there are four iconic stone lions, and the famous Fourth Plinth, where contemporary artists showcase their talent. Besides the Square, visitors can explore the National Gallery, which is located on the north of the square and is home to more than 2,000 Western European paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. From the top of the stairs, you can get splendid views of Whitehall and Big Ben. The National Portrait Gallery is also located close by and offers portraits of important British personalities through the ages. Many cultural events, performances and shows also take place at Trafalgar Square throughout the year. Over the festive period, you can see the biggest Christmas tree in London, which is an annual gift from the city of Oslo.
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Leicester Square: It offers diverse entertainment options including world-class cinemas where red carpet premieres keep taking place at an average of one premiere every week. It is the ideal place to visit as it attracts Hollywood actors from across the globes, who come to walk the red carpet. The square is also home to many restaurants and bars which feature special events or menus during premieres as well as pre or post theatre menus. A number of casinos also feature in some of the restored buildings in the area, such as The Hippodrome Casino, Casino at the Empire, G Casino and more. The other attractions in this area include M&M’s World London and Ripley’s Believe it or Not that will entertain the entire family. An excellent way to end the day is to have a meal at one of the family friendly restaurants.
Piccadilly Circus: Located in the heart of London, it is a busy square, famous for the fountain that was installed here at the end of the nineteenth century and for the neon advertising that has made the square like a mini Times Square. It is at the intersection of five main roads, Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Street, Covent Street and Haymarket. With the creation of Shaftesbury Avenue in 1885, it became a busy traffic junction and invited advertisers to install illuminated billboards. It soon filled up with billboards all around but currently only one building still carries large electronic displays. At the centre of the Circus is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain which is a seminude statue on top of the fountain depicting the Angel of Christian Charity, later renamed Eros. The fountain is made of bronze but the statue is made of aluminium. Piccadilly is currently partly pedestrianised and people like to congregate here before going to nearby shopping and entertainment areas. It is one of London’s most popular tourist destinations.
10 Downing Street: It is the headquarters of the Government of the United Kingdom and the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, a post which has been held by the Prime Minister invariably since 1905. It is located in the City of Westminster and is over 300 years old. It contains about 100 rooms as well as offices and conference, reception, sitting and dining rooms for the Prime Minister to work. Government ministers, national leaders and foreign dignitaries are also received and entertained here. At the back there are an interior courtyard and a terrace overlooking a garden. Visitors to London are not even allowed to enter Downing Street because of security concerns.