Covent Garden in the center of London
Covent Garden is one of the most popular London attractions. The area around the glazed building at the site of the former vegetable market is always crowded, especially during weekends and during the summer period. Covent Garden is known for its numerous cafes, restaurants, pubs, kiosks, markets and shops. Numerous street performers entertain visitors in the pedestrian square.
The site of the former flower market now houses the London Transport Museum. Covent Garden is also home to several theaters, including the Royal Opera.
In the Middle Ages, on the site of the current square was a vegetable field, which is part of the garden of a convent. Vegetables were grown here for the nuns of the nearby convent named after St. Peter, the so-called Covent Garden Westminster. In 1540, King Henry VIII confiscated the lands of the monasteries, and the land was transferred to John Byron Russell, the first Earl of Bedford.
In 1632, the 4th Earl of Bedford, Francis Russell, hired the renowned architect Inigo Jones to transform the area into a luxurious neighborhood. Largely influenced by the squares of Rome, Jones created the London first public square, surrounding it with arcade buildings dominated by the Church of St. Paul.
Today’s first-class neighborhood soon began to decline. During the civil war of 1642, many buildings around the square were deserted. Some of them were then used as shops. When the Great London Fire destroyed the city markets, many companies moved to Covent Garden. The market continued to expand until it occupied a whole area. In 1830, a central market building was built in the middle of the square. Glass roofs over the aisles were added later, first in 1875 and then in 1889. The Flower Market building was added in 1870, and in 1904 the Jubilee Market was completed. You can also watch the other wonders of London in photos by visiting a separate collection.
Covent Garden Shopping and Entertainment Center
In 1921, the government decided that the location in a crowded central area of London was inappropriate for the market. But the market continued to exist until 1973, until it was evicted to Nine Elms.
Developers have planned to destroy most of the vacated buildings and markets in Covent Garden. A new district with hotels and business centers would replace old buildings, but protests from local residents and the objection of the general public prevented the demolition of markets. Plans were changed, and buildings were restored. The conversion to current entertainment shopping center was surprisingly successful: Covent Garden attracts approximately thirty million visitors every year.