London is a city full of landmark squares. Without a doubt, the best known is Trafalgar Square, which has been significantly remodeled over the past decade, with parts pedestrianized and most of the former swarms of pigeons sent on their way. It boasts numerous landmarks, including the National Gallery on the north side, St. Martin-in-the-Fields on the east, and at the center Nelson's Column — a 46m (151.3 ft.) granite column topped with a statue of Horatio Viscount Nelson (1758–1805), one of the country's most celebrated naval heroes.
Nelson first went to sea when aged just 12, and by the age of 39 had risen to the rank of admiral. His career saw him score a series of famous victories, albeit at ever greater cost to himself. The Battle of Calvi in 1794 cost him his eye, the Battle of Santa Cruz cost him an arm, while his most famous victory at Trafalgar ultimately cost him his life. He was a major celebrity of the time and, like any celebrity worth their salt, kept the public intrigued with a complicated private life — his affair with Lady Hamilton, a married society beauty, was a notorious and much-discussed scandal.
He proved a larger-than-life character in death as well as life. The 1.68m (5 ft. 6 in.) admiral was immortalized in a statue some 5.5m (18 ft.) high, built in 1843 by E. H. Bailey. The lions at the base were the later work of Edward Landseer in 1868, and the fountains and ponds weren't constructed until 1939.
There's always plenty going on at Trafalgar Square. This is where most major parades and marches end up, and it provides the focus for the festivities for St. Patrick's Day, the New Year's Day Parade, Pride London, and numerous other events. For decades the square was also the venue for the rowdiest New Year's Eve celebrations, held within earshot of the famous bongs of Big Ben, although these days larger crowds can be found around the London Eye where there's a midnight firework display.
The square is also the site of a few unusual attractions, including an equestrian statue of Charles I, from where all distances from London are measured, and in the southwest corner, the world's smallest police station — it has room for just one, rather lonely, officer. The square is also cornered by four plinths, three of which bear statues, while the "Fourth Plinth" plays host to a succession of temporary, often sensationalist, artworks.