What are the world's greatest squares? Print
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Tuesday, 11 January 2011 00:00
<img title="What are the world's greatest squares?" class="main-photo" src="/photo/what-are-the-world-s-greatest-squares--%247067984%24500.jpg" alt="What are the
world's greatest squares?"> What are the world's greatest squares?

Tuesday, 11, Jan 2011 02:53

What are the qualities of the world's greatest squares? I've picked my top five and now I want you to be the judge.

Are you looking for people watching potential and all around ambiance? Or does size matter? Tianamen Square in China is a massive 440,000 m² and did you know the largest square in Europe is Rynek Glowny in Krakow, Poland?

Or does your favourite square have historical significance or perhaps a literary connection like Washington Square in New York City?

Whatever your criteria, here are my picks for the top five most fabulous squares around the world, what are yours? Write your comments below or talk to me on Twitter @travelbite.

1. Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy

I think Piazza Navona will be a popular number one due to its exquisite architecture - Bernini's great fountain - lively markets and the fact it is filled with a mix of Italians and tourists year around, talking and laughing and enjoying the drama that is Rome. Note that I have to impose a tiny rule here: you can only choose one square from a single country. Otherwise, let's face it we'd never leave Italy.

2. Red Square in Moscow, Russia

It is surrounded by iconic architectural set pieces: The Kremlin, St Basil's cathedral, Lenin's tomb. The cobbles of Red Square have seen everything from peasant markets to intimidating Soviet exhibitionism. The windows of the GUM department store on the eastern side of the square now display the most exclusive designer goods. It's the heart of Moscow, which is the heart of Russia.


3. Old Town Square of Prague, Czech Republic

Prague's Staromestské námestí falls between the Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square and the city's famous Jewish quarter. The art nouveau fountain and the astronomical clock are the details on a canvas that includes the gothic Týn Cathedral and baroque St. Nicholas Church. For a visitor to Prague, sitting in a café enjoying the comings and goings of students and visitors.

4. Trafalgar Square in London, United Kingdom

Since they pedestrianised the top of Trafalgar Square, this iconic London landmark has come into its own. It's the heart of central London, a must on every tourist itinerary, and home to one of the world's great art collections in the National Gallery. Nelson and the other bronze kings and generals may hark back to imperial glories but the regularly refreshed installation on the Fourth Plinth keeps us looking to the future.


5. The Registan in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

This one is down to sheer glorious art, architecture and the awesomeness of history. When Timur (Tamerlane) and his successors built their capital of Samarkand on the Silk Road between China and Europe at the end of the 14th Century I'm not sure they could have envisaged their great monuments and medrassahs being surrounded by a sea of Soviet modernity. But the beauty of the craftsmanship and have impressed visitors such as Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. And they certainly impressed me.

By Natasha von Geldern

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