London’s most glittering roundabout
With its flashing neon advertising signs and huge video displays, you’ll know you’ve arrived at Piccadilly Circus - London’s version of Times Square. Get a top-deck view of this famously busy spectacle with Big Bus Tours as we take you right in to the heart of theatreland. Piccadilly Circus connects Regents Street, Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Avenue and the Haymarket, and although the original roadway was round, changes to the layout have altered its shape and traffic flow, so now it circulates in just one direction.
The history of Piccadilly Circus
Ever wondered why it’s called Piccadilly Circus? Although it was originally built in 1819, the junction takes its name from a combination of the Latin word for ‘circle’ and a thoroughfare that first appeared in 1626 as ‘Piccadilly Hall’. This road was named after a house belonging to a tailor who became rich selling ‘piccadils’ – a generic term used for frilled collars.
The centrepiece for Piccadilly Circus is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, featuring a small figure with a bow and arrow at the top. He’s commonly referred to as Eros, but he’s actually Anteros, Eros’s brother and the God of requited love.
Fashion, film, food and theatre lovers won’t be disappointed here either, as Piccadilly is only moments away from the major shopping and entertainment venues, including the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre.
Other interesting facts about Piccadilly Circus
- London’s first illuminated advertising billboards were installed here in 1895. They’re rarely dimmed, but were notably switched off for the funerals of both Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales. And indeed, in January 2017, the boards were switched off and will remain so until autumn to allow for them to be upgraded with new technology. This is the first extended switch off since the Blitz.
- Piccadilly Circus was created by architect John Nash as part of the future King George IV's plan to connect Carlton House, where the Prince Regent resided, with Regent’s Park
- Coca-Cola has maintained advertising space here since 1954.