About the Area
A district in the west end of London, Covent Garden is located between the boroughs of Westminster and Camden. Its name comes from the monks of the Convent of St Peter for Westminster who used the area in the 13th century when it was inhabited by an orchard, providing fruits and vegetables. When the area changed hands, a square was created in 1630 and modelled after the Italian piazza. With the addition of houses and St Paul's church, the hope was to create a high-end neighbourhood. By 1654, a fruit and vegetable market had developed in place of the orchard but, due to its disorganized nature, many taverns and brothels appeared and turned the area into a notable red light district. To solve this, a market building was put up in 1830, which led to the area's improvement. Though the market relocated and the area fell into disuse, it rose to prominence again in 1980 when a shopping centre was added. The area extends from High Holborn and New Oxford Street in the north, Kingsway in the east, The Strand in the south, and Charing Cross Road to the west, and can also be seen as extending down to the Thames.
Places of Interest
The district of Covent Garden and the square itself is one of London's most famous attractions and is visited by more than 30 million people every year. With 13 theatres including the Drury Lane Theatre and The Royal Opera House, the area is the centre of London's theatre culture. The area has even inspired the setting for many plays and films, including Eliza Doolittle, who was a flower vendor in Covent Garden in George Bernard Shaw's famous play Pygmalion. The London Transport Museum has been located in the building that used to house the flower market since 1980. With more than 60 restaurant establishments, food options are diverse and range from a French wine bar (Cafe Des Amis) to authentic Mexican (Cafe Pacifico) to vegetarian and vegan options (Food For Thought). The area is also home to a number of pubs including The Harp, one's of the city's best. You can visit the Seven Dials in north Covent Garden, a pillar marked with seven sundials that marks the intersection of seven streets, or view the Thames from the windows of London's most famous hotel, The Savoy.
The Covent Garden area is served by a number of Underground stations, primarily the Covent Garden and Leicester Square stations which, at 300 yards, are the two closest stations in the entire London tube system. Covent Garden station is located at Long Acre and Neal Street and is about two blocks north of the piazza. Leicester Square station is located at Charing Cross Road and Cranbourn Street and is east of Leicester Square and close to St Martin's Lane and the Garrick Theatre. The Underground stations of Holborn, Tottenham Court, Embankment, and Charing Cross are also close by. Also located in the area is the Charing Cross railway station, which provides rail service to southeast England.