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National Gallery, London

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National Gallery London

The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square (map) in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.

Its collection belongs to the government on behalf of the British public, and entry to the main collection is free of charge. The collection is smaller than many European national galleries, but encyclopaedic in scope; most major developments in Western painting “from Giotto to Cézanne”.

It holds European paintings by masters like Sandro Botticelli, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, J. M. W. Turner, and Vincent van Gogh. Book your ticket in advance to guarantee entry. Free exhibitions are included with Gallery entry.

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The late 18th century saw the nationalisation of royal or princely art collections across mainland Europe. The Bavarian royal collection (now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, map) opened to the public in 1779, that of the Medici in Florence around 1789 (as the Uffizi Gallery, map), and the Museum Français at the Louvre was formed out of the former French royal collection in 1793.

Great Britain, however, did not follow other European countries, and the British Royal Collection still remains in the sovereign’s possession.

Following the pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square, the Gallery is currently engaged in a masterplan to convert the vacated office space on the ground floor into public space. The plan will also fill in disused courtyards and make use of land acquired from the adjoining National Portrait Gallery in St Martin’s Place, which it gave to the National Gallery in exchange for land for its 2000 extension.

Public transport

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TRANSPORT FOR LONDON – is a government organisation responsible for all public transport. Their website contains maps plus an excellent journey planner. The Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world. (+ Connections map)

CityMapper – London | The ultimate transport app and technology for mobility in cities.

+ Getting around (visitlondon.com) • Transport (london.gov.uk) • Travel to and around England (visitengland.com)

 BUS >   National Express. By far the largest domestic coach operator and operates services throughout Great Britain. London’s coach hub is Victoria Coach Station (map), an Art Deco building opened in 1932.

 RAIL >   National Rail network, with 70 per cent of rail journeys starting or ending in London. + Train – Planning trip >> *Rail travel in Great Britain

 AIRPORTS >   Heathrow Airport, in Hillingdon, was for many years the busiest airport in the world for international traffic. Gatwick Airport is second airport, also serving a large spectrum of places world-wide. >> airportguides.co.uk – list of airports.

 WATERWAYS >   River boat services on the Thames known as Thames Clippers, which offers both commuter and tourist boat services. + River Transport Services.

Bicycles may be taken on car ferries and on Eurotunnel shuttle trains. Eurostar allows folding bikes on all its trains, and offers a more restricted service for other bikes, but has quite strict and specific rules that are worth reading up on before you travel.

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