England – London – Covent Garden

Just a short walk from Trafalgar Square and I am in Covent Garden. Narrow streets with a multitude of shops and cafe’s where it seems that almost anything can be found that a person might be looking for. Perfect place for immersing in a different culture: I walked the streets and listen to how people talk. Stopping for lunch at Pret a Manger I finished reading my book over a hot bowl of soup. Because, as it happened, the weather was again rather on a chilly side.

In the 16th century this area belonged to the Westminster Abbey and was known as “the garden of the Abbot and the Convent of Westminster”. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, took possession of its lands, and decided to build wealthy houses here, it was already called “Covent Garden”. By the 18th century the affluent climate of the area was completely lost. With the arrival of taverns and theaters, most of its wealthy tenants moved out. In the subsequent years the Parliament ordered markets build here and the commerce that came with it elevated the level of life significantly, to the point that now the biggest problem became traffic congestion. The markets needed more space, but the people objected to the demolition of houses. In the end the business moved out and by the 20th century Covent Garden attracted new kind of residents: elegant shops that could safely reside in the historic buildings.

The best side of this development is that the art did not leave entirely. Theaters, art galleries, experimental restaurants, which for some people are truly an art form, are blossoming there and Covent Garden is quite known for them.

 

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