Things to do near Marble Arch
Landmarks near Marble Arch
Unsurprisingly, the most iconic landmark in the area is the Marble Arch itself. It cost a lot of money to build, and construction was halted for a time because of the lack of funds. Originally, the arch stood in a different place, but nowadays it stands on a traffic island in its current location. There is a myth floating around that Marble Arch housed a police station, but it’s not true. The police only used it temporarily, and it wasn’t a fully fledged station (unlike the Wellington Arch). It is said that only the Royal Family and one ceremonial unit of the British Army are allowed to pass through the arch (but what happens if you break this rule? There is only one way to find out).
Near the arch you will also see an impressive bronze sculpture called Still Water, depicting a giant disembodied horse’s head. The art work was created by Nic Fiddian-Green, who specialises in life-like depictions of horses.
A short walk and you will find Grosvenor Square, sometimes called ‘Eisenhower Platz’ or ‘Little America’. It’s where the first American embassy was housed, although in 2018 it moved to a giant glass cube in Battersea. Besides the splendid architecture, Grosvenor Square is interesting for American president statues, a RAF memorial and a lovely 9/11 memorial garden (there is a piece of a steel beam from the World Trade Centre buried there). You can find a fragment of the Berlin Wall near the Roosevelt statue.
Nature near Marble Arch
When you tire of noise, pollution and crowds, Hyde Park awaits. Due to its size, a short walk can take you away to a place where you cannot see a single car. It’s a great opportunity to have a picnic or to visit the Serpentine Gallery for a dose of modern art. If you are after something different, visit the Speakers Corner on a Sunday. Orators on all topics – politics to eternal damnation – gather here to preach to the masses. Hecklers are also interesting to watch. They challenge and infuriate the orators, starting a dialogue that really goes some strange places. If you’re visiting in winter, try Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. It’s a slightly tacky set up, but if you’re in Christmas mood already, you’ll enjoy it. You can get some hot mulled wine and show off your ice skating skills to your date.
Oxford Street is the obvious choice, as you can start your walk from the Marble Arch itself and move down towards the city centre. You won’t need to walk far before you come across Selfridge’s. Selfridge’s is famous for fashionable designer clothing, but there is more to do there than that. It has a great food hall, with a room dedicated just to chocolate. Some people visit Selfridge’s solely to see its window displays, which are magnificent, designer-curated and often designed around a particular theme. Besides Oxford street, other shopping opportunities include St Christopher’s Place and other side streets full of boutique shops.