Hotels Near Marble Arch
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Where is Marble Arch in London?
Surrounded by the prestigious areas of Mayfair and Marylebone, Marble Arch boasts an impressive postcode. The landmark has its own tube station (Marble Arch) on the Central line, while Bond Street (Central, Jubilee and Elizabeth line) is a ten-minute walk.
The history of Marble Arch
Designing and building
Marble Arch was designed by the architect John Nash, who was also responsible for Regent's Park, Regent Street and parts of Buckingham Palace. It was planned as an impressive gateway leading to an extended Buckingham Palace, celebrating British victories in the Napoleonic wars.
The Marble Arch we know today isn't as elaborate or grand as Nash intended. In 1930, when work on the arch was progressing, King George IV died, and Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley sacked Nash for overspending.
A new architect, Edward Blore, was commissioned to finish the project more economically. He struggled to understand the pieces and parts left behind by Nash, who, unhappy about his dismissal, refused to help. Blore decided to complete Marble Arch without most of the sculpture.
Today's landmark only has four decorative panels and other parts of blank stone. Some of Nash's original battle scene sculptures were incorporated into the Buckingham Palace courtyard. Others were used in the construction of the National Gallery.
Moving Marble Arch
Marble Arch stood as a gateway to Buckingham Palace for 17 years until it became overshadowed by the vast and elaborate palace. The arch would be moved to its current location on the corner of Hyde Park in time for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The arch was moved stone by stone over just three months. Marble Arch stood as the grand entrance to Hyde Park for more than 50 years until a new road separated the structure from the park in 1908.
Marble Arch highlights
When visiting Marble Arch, admire its most famous marble carvings.
On the north side, a sculptured carving of three female figures represents Brittania, Ireland and Scotland. In Peace with Trophies of War, Peace stands on a pile of shields and spears while twin cherubs hold her gown. The central stones on the lower arches represent warriors wearing Greek helmets. At the same time, a lion's head keystone features clawed paws and a bushy mane.
On the south side of Marble Arch, Virtue and Valour and Peace and Plenty stand out as the key carvings, while a bearded Neptune is the keystone of all three arches. The bronze gates showcase a lion at the top, George IV's cypher in the middle and St George and the dragon at the bottom.