Monday 2 July 2007

Covent Garden Piazza, London

Just about London's only continental-style piazza, the focal point of Covent Garden is a former fruit and vegetable wholesale market standing in the middle of a large cobbled square. Today, the grand neo-classical stone walls and vaulted glass roof of the market shelter a handful of boutiques surrounded by very touristy, and sometimes, tacky restaurants and market stalls. Inside the solid stone pillars, the tone is often raised at weekends by a string quartet, while outside the mood is lifted by jugglers, mime artists and the many other street entertainers who ply their trade around the pavement cafes. The cobbled square, which throngs with tourists on sunny days, is enclosed by a clutch of distinguished buildings, including the rear entrance of the striking Royal Opera House, the London Transport Museum and the monolithic, neo-classical St. Paul's Church. The best place to survey the scene is the balcony of the otherwise unremarkable Punch & Judy pub. 7/10