There is undoubtedly a plethora of relatively new, interesting buildings and structures within London, which have proven to be a large attraction to the many visitors we have to our capital city. Take the London Eye, the Shard and the Millennium Dome to name a few. Yet London is also one of the most historic cities on the earth, dating back well beyond Roman times, boasting landmarks that have given the city a reputation for both splendour and culture.
This month we’ll look at some of these older, yet well-loved tourist attractions, which will hopefully be around for many more years to come. Needless to say, whether you opt for the ancient or modern within London, there is always something of interest to everyone. That’s why London is such an exceptional place to stay and rent a serviced apartment, as you get the best of everything, both old and new, equally contributing to make the city the wonderful city we know today.
One spectacular area of London, hosting an iconic city landmark, is Marble Arch. Now an entirely modern, bustling district, with Oxford Street to the East, Park Lane to the south and Bayswater to the west, the region encompasses much of the City of Westminster, boasting some of the most expensive real estate in the Capital.
The area around the Arch now accommodates a major road junction, yet once, according to the poet John Betjeman, who in one of his poems states, ‘For here where once were pleasant fields and no one in a hurry!’ How times have changed!
This historic arch has had a chequered history. Its original design was supposed to have been a triumphal arch and grand gateway to an expanded Buckingham Palace, celebrating the British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, yet the arch we see today is nothing like as ornate or grand as the one that designer John Nash originally intended. When first commissioned by George IV, Nash was due to have incorporated many imposing sculptures, such as a large equestrian statue of the king sitting above the arch, along with other, more ornate friezes of battle scenes and symbolic panels. Having produced these, unfortunately after the king’s death, Nash was sacked for overspending in favour of another architect, Edward Blore, whose brief was to complete the works in a more economic fashion!
However, what to do with all this jumbled collection of sculptures that were on his hands?
Nash, understandably, would no longer cooperate on the project, so Blore decided to complete the Arch without most of the intended sculptures. The arch we therefore see today has only four symbolic panels with minimal decoration. The ends are blank except for three laurel wreaths.
Marble Arch was finally completed in 1833, minus the central gates, which were added just before Queen Victoria was crowned in 1837. Yet there was one fatal mistake still visible today. The symbolic panels were supposed to represent a "military side", which celebrated victory at the Battle of Waterloo and a “naval side” which commemorated Lord Nelson’s achievements. However, the military side is topped with the portrait of Nelson and the naval side with one of Wellington. What a ‘mistaka to maka!’
Fortunately the other sculptures still survive and were eventually used within Buckingham Palace Courtyard and in the new National Gallery. And what happened to the equestrian statue? It now sits on a plinth in Trafalgar Square!
After all this effort to construct, Marble Arch was eventually deemed unsatisfactory in its original location and moved, stone by stone, to where it currently stands at Cumberland Gate. Its new site would, it was thought, form a grand entrance to Hyde Park in time for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Indeed, this was the case for 50 years, however with progress came additional, widened roads, and in 1908 and 1960 respectively, new road schemes managed to completely separate the Arch from Hyde Park, leaving it in an isolated position…..all the best laid plans!
If you decide to visit this exceptional area of London, you won’t be sorry. Near to Marble Arch, Hyde Park is a wonderful place to relax at all times of the year, whilst for retail therapy why not head off to Oxford Street? There are also a wide range of cafes, bars and restaurants within the neighbourhood, along with other major attractions and theatre land just a short underground trip away.
If you need somewhere to rest your weary head after a hard day sightseeing, why not try Euracom’s George Street, central London apartments? Centred at the heart of London’s West End, this modern, 4 storey town house features several self – catering apartments
These delightful serviced apartments in the heart of London's West End are housed in a four storey town house, designed in a modern style. From five one-bedroom apartments to a double studio apartment, ranging from a reasonable £650 p/w, these offer guests the ideal London retreat.
Another unmissable, yet historic area of London is that of Trafalgar Square, a must stop for any visitor to London. This public square, completed in 1844, is regarded to be at London’s centre and was built around the area once known as Charing Cross. However, the district has been well renowned since the 13th century. It once housed the King's Mews, although when these were relocated to Buckingham Palace by George IV, its redevelopment took place, resulting in the splendid square that we have today. The name ‘Trafalgar’ celebrates Britain’s naval victory in the war against Napoleon.
At the centre of the square sits the 52m high Nelson’s column, surrounded by four statuesque lions sitting on plinths, each weighing seven tons. Originally called The Monument to Lord Nelson, the column is built of Devon granite and commemorates Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Interestingly, when being refurbished in 2006, it measured over 4 metres less than people had first thought! On a more sinister note, in 1940 the Nazis developed secret plans to move Nelson's Column to Berlin when Britain lost the Second World War! Thankfully, this didn’t happen!
Fountains and sculptures have adorned the square, throughout the years, whilst since 1947, a Christmas tree, donated by Norway, is erected in gratitude for Britain's support during World War II. The square is also the centre of New Year's Eve celebrations. For years the square was renowned for its pigeon population and a popular pastime in Victorian times was to feed them. Pigeon feed sellers became famous for trading at inflated prices, whilst the pigeon population also inflated to around 35,000 and was deemed to be a health hazard. In recent years, feeding the pigeons has been banned and birds of prey have been introduced to discourage them.
Nearby are the National Gallery, featuring masterpieces from the past, along with Her Majesty’s Theatre, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
This area of London is a tourist’s dream! If you require a central location to enable you to experience all the famous landmarks and soak up the history of our great capital then look no further than Euracom’s Central London serviced apartments in Trafalgar Square WC2.
These modern, newly refurbished serviced apartments are within a minutes’ walk of all the areas mentioned above. Ranging from £987 p/w, they make the perfect spot for exploring our capital city. Sleeping from 2 to 6 persons, all apartments and studios are well furnished and air conditioned. If café culture is your desire, you’ll find plenty of coffee shops, pubs & restaurants at nearby Pall Mall and Trafalgar Square.
A rather more modern attraction than those previously covered is The Barbican. Opened on the 3 March 1982, to a very excited public, this performing arts centre in the City of London is the largest of its kind in Europe. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the centre gives theatre goers, a range of contemporary and classical music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. Declared by the Queen as a ‘modern wonder of the world’, this was the first arts centre ever to provide music, theatre, visual arts, film with a tropical conservatory all within one venue.
Once a World War 2 bomb crater, the Barbican rose out of the rubble to become a world-class multi-arts centre.
From the opening ceremony, this iconic theatre has shown innovation, vision and ambition to push boundaries in in the art world, welcoming the finest artists in the world to come and perform. From new interpretations of Shakespeare, from distinguished directors like Thomas Ostermeier, to celebrations of Nordic and Japanese culture, the centre encourages people to create innovative work that takes risks. This centre has really raised the game in theatre, and for this reason it attracts the best international artists around, along with home grown talent.
The Barbican’s initial conception came as part of London’s post war vision to rebuild an area of London which was devastated by bombing during the Second World War. Its name comes from a street situated in the area of Cripplegate, which was, during the 19th century, home to a wide variety of tradesmen including furriers and glovers, and was the centre of the rag trade with fabric and leather merchants in abundance.
Yet during the 1940’s the area, and indeed the whole of London, succumbed to a prolonged aerial attack by German bombers, leaving in its wake a flattened, devastated landscape of bomb craters and fire damaged warehouses. By 1945, very few buildings within the area remained standing, leaving Londoners keen to rebuild. Careful plans were instigated throughout the capital, resulting in the London we have today.
The Barbican itself took over a decade to complete and is today seen as a famous London landmark due to its scale and ambitious design. It has become internationally recognised as one of the most significant architectural achievements of the 20th century. It also demonstrates that good can rise from adversity, showing us what is great about London and its people, which are both innovative and outward looking. It has certainly played its part in making London the great diverse, cultural city it has become, encouraging a sense of community and unity, by making us see the world from different angles.
Not only is the Barbican a centre for outstanding arts but over the years it has become a valuable local resource, bringing communities together. This has contributed considerably to East London’s vibrant and thriving cultural life. If you’d like to experience this sensational part of London, then why not extend your stay in the capital by trying Euracom’s Central London serviced apartments, Barbican EC1?
For a weekly rental cost starting from £875 p/w, this collection of modern serviced apartments range from newly refurbished studio apartments to deluxe 1-bedroom apartments. They are located within easy reach of the Barbican Centre and St Paul’s Cathedral, making them the perfect retreat within central London. With clever designs to maximise space, all apartments are equipped with a fully fitted kitchen with dishwasher, microwave and bathroom with shower.
Brian Balfe [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Wordsworth Donisthorpe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By James Pollard (died 1867) - Berger Collection: id #21 (Denver, Colorado), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6436449
By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Riodamascus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Alan Simkins, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9112425