Piccadilly Circus and its many attractions

London has scores of interesting places to visit. From shopping to sightseeing, entertainment to cultural sights there is loads to see and explore in London. It is these aspects that make the city the most popular tourist destination in the world.

It has some of the finest hotels in the world like The Shaftesbury hotel Collection London, which offers the best in comforts and facilities at a very reasonable place. At certain parts of the year there are some great discounts and special packages available for guests.

In terms of location staying at The Piccadilly London West End 5 star hotels are very convenient as it offers easy access to the many attractions, in one of the most iconic parts of London.

Piccadilly Circus lies in the center of the city and is one of the busiest squares in London. The place is known the world over for its famous fountain, which was placed in the area towards the end of the 19th century. It is also well known for its colorful neon advertisements that rival those of Times Square in New York. It derived its name from ‘piccadil’, which was a frilled collar that was in fashion in the 17th century. The term ‘Circus,’ was used in context of the traffic that circulated the roundabout in the area. It lies at a prominent location that serves as an intersection of five important roads, which are Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Street, Regent Street, Haymarket and Covent Street. It was designed by master architect John Nash and was part of a plan to link Carlton House to Regent’s Park.

In 1885, Shaftesbury Avenue was created which transformed the area into a traffic hub. Advertisers at that time realised the significance of the location and decided to install the first billboards that were illuminated in 1895. For quite a long period the square was encircled by billboards, which made it a replica of Times Square. However, currently most of them have been removed with one prominent building now displaying mainly mostly electronic displays. Now Piccadilly has a pedestrian area popular with visitors and tourists to the area, as a meeting point, from which they can visit the entertainment and shopping areas in the vicinity. Some of the tourist hotspots that lie close by include Trafalgar Square, Soho, Leicester Square and Chinatown.

Some of the top attractions that are within and close to Piccadilly Circus include:

Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain:
Within the heart of the Circus lies the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. The fountain was created 1893, to honour the memory of Lord Shaftesbury, a well known philanthropist who was devoted to improving the condition of the poor. The statue that lies atop the fountain is meant to represent the Angel of Christian Charity. Later it was decided to rechristen the statue as Eros who is the ancient Greek god of love and beauty. While the fountain was constructed of bronze, the statue itself was made of aluminium, which was a rare metal at that period.

Shakespeare Fountain:
Within the centre of the square there is a garden. The garden has a marble fountain in its centre with a statue of William Shakespeare with dolphins surrounding him. It was created in 1874, by Giovanni Fontana and was named the Shakespeare Memorial Fountain.

Other statues:
At all the 4 corners of the park there are statues commemorating other prominent Londoners, which include Sir Isaac Newton, William Hogarth, John Hunter and Sir Joshua Reynolds.In 1981, a likeness of Charlie Chaplin, was done by John Doubleday. Apart from the statues there is a square that has floor plaques which have the hand impressions and names of famous movie stars, like those found on Hollywood Boulevard.

Glockenspiel:
Probably the most unusual sight to be seen at Leicester Square is the odd looking Swiss Glockenspiel. It is ten metres in length made of steel and has a carillon, which consists of twenty-seven bells. Beneath the bells there are 11 figures made of wood, which depicts people and animals in historical attire. In the afternoon when the bells chime the figures appear in a procession that is in sync with the chiming of the bells. And just beneath them within a glass drum that is decorated with pennants of Swiss cantons, which are crowned with a Swiss clock. It was a present from Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Once upon a time it was in the Swiss Centre, which was a bustling trade and tourist centre which marketed Switzerland. However, it was later demolished, although its existing carillon was restored and from November 2011, can be found at Leicester Square.

Nelson’s Column:
The Square was built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.  It was an epic naval battle on 21st of October 1805, that took place off the Spanish Coast close to Cape Trafalgar. In the beginning there was no definite plan to honour Lord Nelson who lost his life in the battle, but later in 1838, there was a decision that the area would be the perfect spot to the legendary Admiral. To decide a design the authorities planned a competition to choose the winner among the participants.  It was William Railton, who won the competition and suggested a170ft tall Corinthian column and statue. It took 2 years to build the column in 1843. Atop the column they placed a 18ft tall statue of Lord Nelson, that was the creation of Edward Hodges. Its base had 4 lions that were added later in 1868, and were created by Sir Edwin Landseer.

"Nelson's Column"
National Gallery:
To the north of Piccadilly Circus is the neo-classical structure the National Gallery, It was constructed in the period 1834 to 1838, and occupies a key position over Trafalgar Square, from its position. It has a fabulous exhibit of paintings, which span more than six centuries. Some of the European Masters that can be seen here include Michelangelo, Vermeer, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Titian, Renoir and Van Gogh among others.

"National Gallery"

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