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National Gallery

The pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square has created an even grander forecourt to one of the world's finest art collections. The National Gallery houses European paintings from the 13th to the 20th centuries, and a visit is free of charge.

The collection officially began with Parliament's purchase of a private art collection in 1824 and has grown ever since. Take an audio guide or just wander around the main rooms and discover the masterpieces for yourself.

Enter by the Sainsbury wing and your visit starts with early paintings up to 1510, including Botticelli's remarkable Venus and Mars (1485). In the main galleries star pieces are by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Titian - including the dazzling Bacchus and Ariadne (1522-1523) - and the darker brushstrokes of Tintoretto.

Towards the back of the gallery are the Dutch masterpieces: a small, subtly lit, atmospheric room with Vermeers and de Hoochs, as well as a large, dazzling room full of Rembrandts. In the vicinity are works by Rubens and Van Dyck, including one of the former's most inspired works, Samson and Delilah (1610-1613).

The East Wing boasts the only extant nude by Spanish master Velázquez, the so-called Rokeby Venus (1647-1651) - one of the most delicate, moving, simple nudes ever painted, with edges so soft they seem to glow. Nearby are Impressionist and post-Impressionist works including Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Monet, Seurat, Manet (the disturbing, compulsive Execution of Maximilian (1867-1868)) and Degas. The home-grown art features great works by Stubbs, Gainsborough, Constable and Turner - including his Fighting Temeraire.

Inside the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London. © National Gallery

National Gallery Information

When: Daily

Where: London

Cost: Free; temporary exhibitions charge

Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm (until 9pm Fri)

Address: Trafalgar Square London, England, London, WC2N 5DN

Hotels near National Gallery

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