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A Short Guide to the West End

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The West End of London (commonly known as the West End) is a distinct area of Central London which contains many of the city’s major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues especially West End theatres.

London developed over the centuries with two distinct areas, the City of London in the east, and the City of Westminster in the west. The City of London has developed as the main business and financial district, in contrast Westminster became associated with government, universities and embassies.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Westminster also became known for leisure, shopping, commerce, and entertainment sectors and it is these sectors that are generally associated with the modern ‘West End’.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the West End was full of expensive town houses, fashionable shops and entertainment venues. It was during this time that the term West End was used to suggest the wealthy part of London in contrast to the East End that was considered the poorer part of London.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This distinction was not absolute, but during the 20th century, the poorer communities who lived in areas in the West End like Covent Garden, Soho, Chinatown and Leicester Square have gradually made way for more wealthy residents.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Whilst the type of residents have changed, the distinctive nature of the various neighbourhoods has survived, Soho maintains it bohemian character, Covent Garden is home to the Royal Opera House and full of bars and restaurants, Leicester Square is home to cinemas, bars, restaurants and attractions. Chinatown has the highest concentration of authentic Asian cuisine in the UK.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

For many, the West End is distinctive because of the large number of theatres, it is estimated that there are around 40 major theatres in London’s “Theatreland”. Prominent theatre streets include Drury Lane, Shaftesbury Avenue, and The Strand. Going to the theatre is very popular with visitors to London and a number of squares in the area are favourites with visitors but rarely visited by Londoners. Most popular are Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The West End is one of London’s most important cultural areas with top attractions including museums and galleries like The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Academy of Arts and the London Transport Museum.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The area include some of London’s finest shopping streets with Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, there are some smaller shopping streets like Carnaby Street and Seven Dials.

A visit to the West End in the day and the evening is considered a must do for visitors to London, the vibrant atmosphere and multiple attractions provide plenty of fun and entertainment.

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