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While London has a very long history, stretching back to pre-Roman times, we have the good people of the 19th century to thank for preserving or creating its magnificent city centre parks. London has acres of green space, from the little wooded oases of the squares in Soho, Belgravia and ‘Fitzrovia,’ to the massively varied landscapes of Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Each has its own personality, are here are few of London’s most famous parks.
Hyde Park is one of the largest, and certainly the liveliest. It covers a vast area, has over 4,000 trees and its own lake, the Serpentine. Its size lends itself well to major events. It was here that the Great Exhibition of 1851 was held. More recently, it’s earned a reputation as a location for major musical events. Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Queen, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti and many others have performed here over the last few decades. In 2012 it hosts the triathlon event for the London Olympics. Away from these prestigious occasions, Hyde Park is always an exciting place to visit, with its grand entrance at the southern end of Park Lane, and Speakers’ Corner near Marble Arch. Karl Marx and George Orwell were both visitors to Speakers’ Corner, though not at the same time, so you never quite know what to expect.
Regent’s Park is a little more sedate, but still full of life. The northern boundary of the park is marked by the Grand Union Canal, once a major trading artery connecting London’s docks with England’s industrial heartlands. Today, Regent’s Park has the largest outdoor sports arena in London, and is home to the internationally important Zoological Society of London, and of course London Zoo. It also has its own outdoor theatre, with regular shows throughout the summer months, but Regent’s Park is always a good place to go and relax, and to enjoy its wonderful landscape architectural features.
St James’s Park is the oldest of the Royal Parks, and has no less than three royal palaces around it, including Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace. It’s a small park in comparison to others, but it’s part of a sequence of green spaces that surround the palaces. St James’s Park is a great place to get a little (relative) tranquillity between sightseeing, and it’s noted for its ponds and waterfowl, including the famous pelicans.
Just outside central London, you’ll find some other fine parks, like Victoria Park (known locally as ‘Vicky Park’) to the north east, and Battersea Park (with its serene Peace Pagoda) to the south west. But, even among the busy shopping streets of the West End, you’re never far from trees and greenery. To the south of Oxford Street, in Soho, Golden Square and Soho Square are handy retreats for weary shoppers and sightseers. To the north, in the area sometimes known as ‘Noho,’ you’ll need to walk a little further to find Fitzroy Square and Belgrave Square, but they may be a little quieter. There are many other green squares dotted around the capital, for example Grosvenor Square and Russell Square. They often contain fine statues, and are surrounded by interesting places. While the great city centre parks provide a wonderful day out, the squares are there for a well-deserved break.
If you enjoyed reading about London’s parks, and want to know more about London, you can read more here at Top 5 London Attractions you shouldn’t miss.
Written by Mike who writes for www.completetravelguide.co.uk and enjoys writing about his family holidays at www.familyholidayguide.co.uk you can follow him on twitter @payt