Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. It is situated in the City of Westminster. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of commemorative statues and sculptures in the square, while one plinth, left empty since it was built in 1840, The Fourth Plinth, has been host to contemporary art since 1999. The square is also used for political demonstrations and community gatherings, such as the celebration of New Year's Eve. The name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars over France and Spain which took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar, Spain. The original name was to have been "King William the Fourth's Square", but George Ledwell Taylor suggested the name "Trafalgar Square".
In the 1820s George IV engaged the architect John Nash to redevelop the area. Nash cleared the square as part of his Charing Cross Improvement Scheme. The present architecture of the square is due to Sir Charles Barry and was completed in 1845. Trafalgar Square is owned by the Queen in Right of the Crown and managed by the Greater London Authority, while Westminster City Council owns the roads around the square, including the pedestrianised area of the North Terrace. It forms part of the Northbank business improvement district. The square consists of a large central area with roadways on three sides and a terrace to the north, in front of the National Gallery. The roads around the square form part of the A4 road. The square was formerly surrounded by a one-way traffic system, but works completed in 2003 reduced the width of the roads and closed the northern side to traffic.
Nelson's Column is in the centre of the square, flanked by fountains designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1937–39 as replacements for two earlier fountains of Peterhead granite (now in Canada) and guarded by four monumental bronze lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer. The lions were cast in bronze melted down from the cannons aboard French and Spanish ships that had taken part in the battle. The column is topped by a statue of Horatio Nelson, the vice admiral who commanded the British Fleet at Trafalgar. On the north side of the square is the National Gallery and to its east St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. The square adjoins the Mall entered through Admiralty Arch to the southwest. To the south is Whitehall, to the east the Strand and South Africa House, to the north Charing Cross Road and on the west side Canada House.
Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) was 8 May 1945, the date when the Allies during the Second World War celebrated the defeat of Nazi Germany. Trafalgar Square was filled with a crowd wanting to hear the formal announcement by Winston Churchill that the war was over. The square was also used as a place of celebration by people travelling there from all over the country. On 8 May 2005 the BBC held a concert to celebrate the 60th anniversary of VE Day.