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Piccadilly Circus (London)

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Piccadilly Circus is a famous traffic intersection and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster. Built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly (the "circus" refers to "circular open space at a street junction"), it now links directly to the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue as well as the Haymarket, Coventry Street (onwards to Leicester Square) and Glasshouse Street. The Circus is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in a central location at the heart of the West End. Its status as a major traffic intersection has made Piccadilly Circus a busy meeting point and a tourist attraction in its own right. The Circus is particularly know for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue known as 'Eros' (sometimes called 'The Angel of Christian Charity', which would be better translated as 'Agape', but formally 'Anteros' - see below). It is surrounded by several noted buildings, including the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre. Directly underneath the plaza is the London Underground station Piccadilly Circus.

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    2 Reviews
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      01.04.2010 08:56
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      Not worth visiting for visting's sake.

      Piccadilly Circus, well there is not really much to write home about. It is basically a pivotal geographical point of London's West End and not worth visiting specifically for any particular reason.

      However, it is often the correct underground stop to get off at as it is within a short walking distance to the likes of Leicester Square, Regent Street, Covent Garden, The Strand, Chinatown, the West End theatre district and London's famous Soho area.

      However, I should warn that the old saying "as busy as Picadilly Circus" is accurate and this particularly applies late at night when it is often very crowded and sometimes almost inaccessible getting into and using the underground station. So if you can find a different station to use then this is advisable.

      I would also be careful when there and in the surrounding streets to be vidulant at all times as there are many pick pockets around as well as other unsavoury people mingling in with the crowds.

      The Eros statue is okay but not particularly big or impressive and the multi=coloured high up lighting adverts (as in the picture above) although slightly iconic won't take your breath away.

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      14.01.2010 00:28
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      Don't make a special visit

      Ah. Piccadilly Circus. Home to the Eros Statue. Home to thousands of flash bulbs and candid poses. Home to the homeless. Home to aggressive bus drivers, well, for that matter drivers in general. Home to world famous advertising revenue. Home to the Trocadero. Gateway to Leicester Square, Soho, Piccadilly, Regent Street and Trafalgar Square.

      Piccadilly Circus is for many the first port of call when visiting London and is as iconic a symbol of a city as the Eiffel Tower, Times Square or the Taj Mahal. Beyond the symbols, what is there actually to do or where is there to go there? If you are looking for generic tourist entertainment then quite alot. If you're looking for a realistic view of London life, then very little.

      Firstly, you have the Criterion Theatre on the south side of the circus. At the time of writing The 39 Steps is currently playing there but this theatre has been home to a number of good Broadway plays and is one of the West End's leading theatres. It is a grade II listed building and the basement theatre in itself is a great experience.

      On the same corner and just opposite the theatre is the famous Eros statue. Now I've always had a slight misconception about how it got its name. It was until only recently I discovered it was named to honour the philanthropic rather than philandering works of Lord Shaftesbury. It now makes less sense to me but when in Rome... or London... strike a pose and say you were there.

      Next to the Criterion is Lilywhites which sells everything you may ever need connected with sports. As they seem to have a never ending closing down sale items are often cheap so come and get your cut priced football shirts here.

      Over the road on the north east corner is the London Pavilion. This former music hall is now a fairly grotesque shopping centre and part of the Trocadero. Here you can find numerous union jack memorabilia or 'I Love London', 'Mind The Gap', etc... merchandise. My recommendation would be to avoid as if infested by brain eating parasites... which on occasion is not all that far from the truth.

      On the north side of the circus we have the famous neon lights symbolic of our materialistic, consumer driven culture and everything horrid about society and this area of London. You'll need to cross the street to the west side to get your half obscured by a bus photo. A good spot would be the site formerly of Tower Records, then Virgin and then the ill named and fated Zaavi before they went into administration. 1 Piccadilly Circus currently stands empty and rumours are abound as to who its new tenants will be. I personally think the site in jinxed so good luck to whoever may be its new inhabitants.

      That about sums up Piccadilly Circus. Beyond the theatre which is of interest, I would personally steer clear paying it a special visit. You won't be able to miss it as invariably you will need to travel through it at some point. Piccadilly Circus tube is very convenient and well serviced and most buses travelling through central London will go via the Circus. Get off if you must or just poke your camera out of the window and get' I've been there' snap happy.

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