Designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1919, the Cenotaph began as a temporary structure, and was originally made from wood and plaster. However, the memorial earned such overwhelming public support that a permanent stone version debuted on Armistice Day—November 11, 1920. Today, the Cenotaph is London’s most important war memorial. On Remembrance Sunday (held on the Sunday closest to November 11), it hosts an annual National Service of Remembrance, during which members of the royal family, heads of military service, and veterans lay poppy wreaths on the monument.
The Cenotaph is included on hop-on hop-off bus itineraries, and other history-themed walking tours in London. Given its proximity to many of London’s top attractions, the Cenotaph is also simple to visit independently.
Things to know before you go
- Cenotaph means “empty tomb” in Greek, and is designed to commemorate those who were buried elsewhere or whose bodies were never found.
- As the Cenotaph occupies the middle of Whitehall, in between lanes of traffic, take care when crossing the road to see it up close.
- The landmark is a major destination for history buffs and for those with personal connections to the World Wars.
How to get there
The Cenotaph can be easily reached by public transit. Take mainline trains or the Bakerloo or Northern line Tube to Charing Cross station. Alternatively, take the Circle or District line to Embankment station, or the Jubilee line to Westminster station. The area is also served by numerous bus lines, and can be reached on foot, by bike, or by taxi.
When to get there
The Cenotaph is a public landmark and is always accessible, though visiting by day offers the best way to discover it. Expect larger crowds of visitors and commemorative ceremonies on and around Remembrance Sunday each year.
Nearby Historical Highlights
For those with a yen for history, the Cenotaph is located conveniently close to other major London landmarks. After your visit, you can glimpse the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, visit the Imperial War Rooms, discover Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, drop by the Household Cavalry Museum, and more.
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