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Piccadilly Circus is an iconic area of London and a true travel hub. Several major roads run into each other here, and the space is engineered to accommodate a huge amount of traffic. Its proximity to so many London destinations, and its visual combination of the historic and the innovative, have made it a prominent symbol of London itself - the name "Piccadilly Circus" is indeed known throughout the world.
Location & Transport
Piccadilly Circus is located in London's West End, northwest of Charing Cross and due west from Leicester Square. It represents a massive intersection designed to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly, although five streets in total run into the circus. It is centrally located, with a number of popular neighborhoods and landmarks within walking distance, making it a pedestrian- and traffic-heavy area.
The bustle, traffic, and scale of Piccadilly Circus often result in comparisons with New York City's iconic Times Square.
The area is served by the London Underground, with Piccadilly Circus station located underground beneath the area. The station is served by the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines of the tube. There are also a number of bus stops close by on Regent Street and Haymarket.
Walking, Piccadilly Circus is about a half-mile west from Covent Garden; one mile north of Westminster Abbey; and a half-mile south of Oxford Circus.
Piccadilly Circus captures the essence of urban London. Red double-decker buses and black cabs constantly stream through the intersection, while pedestrian traffic flows every which way. The buildings that surround the square, including the legendary London Pavilion and the Criterion Theatre, are stately and ornate in classic London architectural styles.
Located in Piccadilly Circus is the Shaftesbury Memorial fountain, with what has come to be known as the Eros statue on top. The memorial, which was built in 1893, is a tribute to Lord Ashley, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, a politician and social reformer who lived in the mid-19th century. The aluminum sculpture on top - of a winged and nude archer - is supposed to be the "Angel of Christian Charity," but because of its close resemblance to the more familiar figure of Cupid, it has become known as the Eros statue.
Lights are also a big part of the Piccadilly panorama. Illuminated advertisements on the facades of buildings around the square were long an iconic symbol of Piccadilly Circus and of London's own economic development. Over 50 brands have been displayed on lighted signs over the past hundred years, and Coca Cola has the title for longest running ad - a continuous presence since 1955.
The lights are symbolically turned off in periods of national mourning and other unusual events. They were extinguished after the deaths of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, and also to mark the World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour.
Piccadilly Circus is located right in Theatreland - the world-famous theatre district of the West End. The vibrant neighborhood of Soho is also steps away from the bustling intersection, hemmed in between Regent Street and Shaftesbury Ave to the north of Piccadilly Circus. Soho is known as an entertainment district, filled with performing arts venues and galleries, cafes, bars, and more. Carnaby Street, one of London's best and most unique shopping areas, is also located here in Soho.
Just a short walk down Coventry Street, to the east of the circus, is Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square is about a mile to the southeast. Trafalgar is a hub of London cultural life, with a constant rotation of festivals, concerts, installations, and more.
Piccadilly Circus has a reputation for being a meeting place, exactly because it is so centrally located. An infinite number of London outings - an afternoon shopping, at a cafe, seeing a play, and more - can all begin right here in the heart of London's West End.