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London - Westminster and Whitehall

top 10 places

Top 100 places to visit in London

1. The National Gallery

Top 10 ten places to visit in London - Westminster and Whitehall

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is an institution that is sometimes too quickly overlooked in the face of the trendy new Tate Modern. This is probably style over content – the work in the National is richer and deeper by far, and is one of the best collections of European paintings in the world.

The newer Sainsbury wing, displays work from 1250 to 1500. Built as an extension to the main building in the 1980’s in a neo classical style, some thought it controversial at the time, more for being placed directly next to the old gallery and looking a bit different, rather than for any outstanding or remarkable feature. The gift shop, and an area in the basement dedicated to special or touring exhibitions are housed here.

The famous Leonardo “Cartoon” (full size preparatory study for a painting) of The Virgin and Child is exhibited in a specially lit walk through area as you pass from the old gallery to the extension.

The older part of the gallery dates from the 1820’s, and shows paintings from 1500 to the early 1900’s.

Turn right from the main entrance and you will see Post-Impressionist paintings by the like of Monet, Manet, Van Gough, Gaugin and Seurat.

Alternatively carry on straight on up the steps into the Titian room, with the autumnal, Death of Actaeon one of the highlights here.

Works by Turner, Constable and Gainsborough are some of the highlights when it comes to the English contingent. Other outstanding collections by Rubens and Rembrant are a must see.

Although The National is renowned as a gallery for famous artists and famous paintings, some of the lesser known work by artists you may not have heard of will probably be just as interesting and appealing.

There is a decent café in the basement, serving teas, coffees, cakes and light meals. It’s not cheap, but then no-where in central London is, and the quality here is usually good.

Whatever your preferences, and whether or not you have any previous knowledge of art, it is unlikely that you will come away from your visit without having found something to interest and inspire you.

It’s worth lingering at the top of the stone steps as you come back outside. There’s a fantastic view over Trafalgar Square, taking in Nelson’s Column, the famous lions, fountains, red buses, and other touristy sites, right down through Admiralty Arch with The Mall and the tower of Big Ben in the distance.

The National Gallery Address:              
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
London
WC2N 5DN
England, UK

The National Gallery Opening Times:      
Daily 10.00 am - 6.00 pm
Wednesday 10.00 am - 9.00 pm
Closing commences 5 minutes before time stated
Closed 1st January and 24th to 26th December
Some areas of the Gallery are closed for staff training on Monday mornings until 11.00 am.

The National Gallery Admission:            
Free – donations welcome

T  +44 (0)20 7747 2885

F  +44 (0)20 7747 2423

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