The National Gallery possesses more than 2,300 European masterpieces, one of the world’s greatest collections of paintings. Trafalgar Square, seen as the centre of London, was chosen by Parliament in 1831 to be the site of a new gallery which would display and expand on an original group of 38 paintings bought from banker John Julius Angerstein to form a national collection. Designed by architect William Wilkins, construction of the building went ahead and the space opened to the public in 1838. The site has been expanded on further over the years and holds works from the 13th century to the mid-1900s.
The gallery is divided into three walking routes. Route A passes through the earliest works where visitors will see paintings by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli and more. Route B contains artwork by Van Gogh, Turner, Monet, Rubens and Rembrandt, among others, with a focus on atmospheric scenes and candlelit moments. Route C concentrates on the Classical gods and Tudor period, displaying art by Titian, Lotto and Holbein. A map showing each route is available to download. Several highlights include Monet’s “Bathers at La Grenouillère”, Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”, Constable’s “The Hay Wain” and da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks”. Food and drink can be found in the restaurant Ochre and cafes Muriel’s Kitchen and Espresso Bar by Muriel’s. There are shops at the start and end of a visit selling gifts, art books and custom prints.
The National Gallery is open daily from 10am to 6pm with a later closing time on Fridays at 9pm. General admission tickets are free, but there may be also temporary exhibitions or events that require a paid ticket. Save time and avoid the queue by booking in advance. Cloakrooms cost £2 per item. Tours and audio guides are available.