Thursday, November 02, 2006

Covent Garden - London

Covent Garden in London

This photo of Covent Garden in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Covent Garden has to be one of the most famous shopping and café areas in London, located just north of the Strand and south of Neal Street. In and around Covent Garden you will find numerous shops and markets. Both the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Museum are close to Covent Garden, while the Royal Opera House is just around the corner.

You can find lovely pictures of Covent Garden taken from the air in Jason Hawke’s book London from the Air.

When most people talk of Covent Garden the first thing that tends to spring to mind is the square or Piazza. This is laid out in an Italian fashion. In the centre is a covered market area with some sunken shops. Often you can catch the chords of classical music being played by buskers as you browse the stalls. At either end are open air performers entertaining the gathered crowds. Human statues line the path from Covent Garden Tube station to the piazza itself waiting to be given coins which prompt sudden movement. In addition to all this, Covent Garden also contains some fairground rides.

When you get tired of browsing the market stalls and other shops, you will be spoilt for choice for a place to sit down, as Covent Garden is lined with various bars, cafes and restaurants. The Royal Opera House contains a café that actually overlooks Covent Garden providing a view of the top of the market and the people bustling around.

The name ‘Covent Garden’ comes from 'convent garden', and refers to the gardens of the Abbey or convent of St Paul. This 40 acre garden was established in the 12C by King John and played a role in providing not only Westminster Abbey, but also much of London, with fresh food for the next 300 years. This all came to an end under Henry VIII and in 1552 the land then known as “le Covent Garden” was granted by Royal patent to the Earl of Bedford in perpetuity.

Covent Garden began to take it’s present form by the 19C, and in 1973 was saved by complete redevelopment after a huge public outcry which resulted in many of the buildings, including the covered market area, receiving listed status.

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The full panoramic image of the west end of Covent Garden showing the inside of one of the covered market areas, can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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