Trafalgar Square celebrates the victory of the British fleet over the combined French and Spanish fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars.
The square has traditionally been used for political demonstrations and community gatherings. A large crowd is always found here to celebrate the start fo the new year. A christmas tree, donated by the people of Oslo as a token of gratitude for British support in World War II, has been erected in the square every year since 1947.
Demonstrations and sometimes full blown riots have regularly taken place in the square. Indeed the original purpose of the fountains was not decorative but was to reduce the area available for riotous assembly.
The column in the centre of the square is topped by a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson, commander of the British fleet at Trafalgar. At the base of Nelsons Column are four lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer using bronze from the guns of French and Spanish ships captured at Trafalgar. The two existing fountans were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Once famous for its feral pigeons, these were discouraged in the first part of the 21st century on health grounds. It is now illegal to feed pigeons in the square.
The square hosts four plinths. Since they were built, three of them have been topped by statues of the great and good. The so called fourth plinth has only been used in the early part of this century at the instigation of the Royal Society of Arts. The installation atop this fourth plinth is changed regularly and has included a giant blue chicken, a thumbs up and a skeletal horse.