- Cultural & historical sites
What you'll do
Wellington Arch is a Grade I listed triumphal arch which contains three floors of exhibitions in its hollow body and boasts balconies offering views across the surrounding area.
Enjoy access to Wellington Arch with The London Pass®
- Pay nothing at the door - simply show your pass.
- Learn about the troubled history of the arch at the onsite museum.
- Discover more about Wellington and his famous victory at the Battle of Waterloo in a well-presented exhibition space within the arch.
- Get superb views across this historic part of London from the balconies at the top of the arch, and admire the bronze chariot sculpture that stands astride it.
Wellington Arch history
In 1825, King George IV unveiled plans to remodel the area around Buckingham Palace, including two new arches at Hyde Park Corner. Both were intended to commemorate Britain’s victories in the Napoleonic Wars ten years prior, and create an impressive approach to the newly completed palace. John Nash designed one of the arches, Marble Arch, and architect Decimus Burton was selected to design the other.
Burton designed his arch in the neo-classical style, modelling it after the Arch of Titus in Rome. His plans, however, were rejected by the king and his committee, as they didn’t believe it was ostentatious enough. Burton set about creating a new design with more exterior ornamentation. Unfortunately, due to the king’s overspending on Buckingham Palace, a moratorium on public building work was introduced in 1828, leaving Burton’s arch bereft of decoration.
In place of integral ornamentation and congruous decoration, it was suggested that a tribute to the Duke of Wellington—Britain’s leader and hero at the Battle of Waterloo—top the ‘Green Park Arch’. The chosen statue was designed by Matthew Cotes Wyatt and depicted Wellington astride a horse. At the time, it was the largest equestrian figure ever made.
The giant statue was put in position atop the arch in 1846, garnering a huge amount of ridicule for its disproportionate size compared with the arch, and the poor quality of the sculpture itself. Burton hated it; many wanted it removed. Foreign visitors saw it as confirmation of Britain’s lack of taste and poor artistic instincts. But, after an intervention from the Duke of Wellington himself, the equestrian statue remained in place. It is this period that gives the arch its current name.
When a road widening scheme saw the arch moved a short distance from its original site, the unpopular statue did not move with it. Instead, in 1885, it was unveiled in its new home of Aldershot. A new statue of Wellington was commissioned, and stands close to the Wellington Arch today. The arch finally got a fitting decoration in 1912, with the installation of the quadriga (four horse chariot) sculpture by Adrian Jones. Depicted Nike, goddess of victory, at the helm of the chariot, it is the largest bronze sculpture in Europe.
Many don’t realise that Wellington Arch is hollow. One pier of it used to be used as a park ranger’s residence, the other as a police station. It was the smallest police station in the city and remained in the arch until the 1950s. Now owned by English Heritage, Wellington Arch opened to the public in the year 2000, with three floors of exhibition space and viewing balconies at the top.
Wellington Arch highlights
- Gain an understanding of the history of the magnificent Wellington Arch at the onsite museum.
- Learn more about the Battle of Waterloo, where the Duke of Wellington guided his army to victory over Napoleon’s forces, ending the Napoleonic Wars. You’ll even find a pair of the Duke of Wellington’s wellington boots and the sword he carried at the Battle of Waterloo in the museum.
- Soak up the views from the balconies, taking in the many sights of the surrounding area of London, including the Queen’s back garden, the Royal Parks and the Houses of Parliament.
- Admire the large bronze sculpture that stands proudly atop the arch, depicting Nike, goddess of victory, on the four-horse chariot of war.
Wellington Arch facts
- Decimus Burton, the architect who designed the original arch, objected so vehemently to the ill-proportioned Duke of Wellington equestrian statue that was placed atop it that he left a significant sum of money in his will to pay for its removal.
- The statue atop the arch—The Quadriga—is the largest bronze statue in Europe.
The View from The Balconies
The balconies at the top of Wellington Arch give fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding area. You can look all the way across the Royal Parks to the Houses of Parliament. If you head there at the right time, you can even view the Household Cavalry passing through the triumphal arch in the direction of Buckingham Palace for the Changing the Guard. Check the official website for details of when the next Changing the Guard ceremony is taking place.
Make the most of your London Pass
For more things to do in London, check out The London Pass® blog.
Know before you go
Getting in: simply show your pass at the entrance.
For more information visit the Wellington Arch website.
Where you'll be
Apsley Way,, Hyde Park Corner,, London, GB
April - October
Wednesday - Sunday: 10AM - 5PM
November - March
Wednesday - Sunday: 10AM - 4PM
Closings & holidays
14-31 March, 24-26 December, 1 January
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