Marble Arch is free to visit and the perfect starting place for a stroll through Hyde Park. Marvel at this intricately decorated sculpture and learn about how it came to reside on a busy traffic island in central London.   

What’s in this guide?  

How to get to Marble Arch  

London offers several forms of public transport that are quick and easy to use, including buses, trains and an underground transport system (tube).  

The closest train stations to Marble Arch are Paddington and Marylebone, around a 15-minute walk away. These stations welcome train services from Birmingham, Bristol and Reading.  

Alternatively, take the tube to Marble Arch station on the Central (red) line. This is the closest Tube station to Marble Arch. Or, take the tube to Hyde Park Corner station on the Piccadilly (blue) line and walk through the park to Marble Arch.  

External view of Marble Arch in the evening in London, UK

Marble Arch history and facts  

Designed by architect John Nash, Marble Arch’s initial purpose was a triumphal arch for Buckingham Palace, created to commemorate a British victory in the Napoleonic Wars.  

Before Marble Arch  

The Marble Arch area today was where London’s Tyburn Gallows once stood. Tyburn was a hanging gallery for the city’s criminals and was used until 1783 when executions were moved to Newgate Prison.  

John Nash’s design  

John Nash was the favourite architect of Prince Regent, who later became King George IV. Nash was the mastermind behind other London landmarks, including Regent’s Park, Regent’s Street and parts of Buckingham Palace. It made sense for the king to commission him to create Marble Arch.  

Nash’s original idea for the arch was a magnificent design complete with friezes, sculptures and a statue of King George on horseback. The arch’s design portrayed the Duke of Wellington’s victories over Napoleon. It was inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.  

King George IV approved the costly designs, and by 1830 the arch was under construction. You can see a scaled-down model of Nash’s original Marble Arch at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Cromwell Road.  

The king’s death  

In June 1830, King George IV died, which put a halt to Nash’s plans for the grand arch. The project was scaled down considerably by William IV (the king’s successor), and Nash was sacked by the Duke of Wellington (the Prime Minister at the time) for overspending.  

Edward Blore replaced Nash as architect for the project. Blore was landed with the tricky task of piecing together all the friezes, panels and sculptures created by Nash. He used several pieces to decorate Buckingham Palace’s central courtyard, giving the rest to architect William Wilkins for the National Gallery.  

A scaled-down version of the original Marble Arch was installed outside Buckingham Palace in 1833.  

Queen Victoria  

When Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, she found her residence of Buckingham Palace to be too small for her entourage. Work to enlarge the palace began, and Marble Arch soon looked out of place next to Buckingham Palace’s exquisite design. In 1850, Marble Arch was moved to its current location at the northeast entrance to Hyde Park. 

The arch was intended to serve as the entrance to the Great Exhibition of 1951, held in the park. It stood as a park entrance until 1908, when it became cut off from the rest of the park by a new road layout.  

How tall is Marble Arch?   

Marble Arch is 45 feet (14 metres) high and measures 60 by 30 feet (18 by 9 metres) – that’s pretty impressive!  

What can I see on the arch?  

The arch is made from a greyish-white Carrara marble imported from Italy. The north side features a sculpted panel with three female figures representing England, Scotland, and Ireland.  

The south side features panels depicting an allegory of Peace and Plenty and one representing Virtue and Valour. These panels were sculpted by Edward Hodges Bailey, who also created the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square. On each of the central gates of the arch, you’ll see King George IV’s symbol.  

Tables outside restaurant in London, UK

Restaurants, bars and shops near Marble Arch  

Marble Arch is located in bustling central London, with plenty of places nearby to grab food and drinks. Whether you fancy a three-course meal or a quick drink before you visit some of London’s other top attractions, you’re sure to find somewhere to suit your needs.  

Afternoon Tea at The Montcalm London   

Enjoy a quintessentially British tradition with Afternoon Tea at The Montcalm London Marble Arch Hotel. This excellent eatery is only a 6-minute walk from Marble Arch. It offers an elegant setting for refreshments after you visit the monument.  

Choose between traditional Afternoon Tea or Champagne Afternoon Tea, and indulge in delicious cakes, finger sandwiches and homemade scones.  

The Italian Greyhound  

Or choose Italian cuisine at The Italian Greyhound bar and restaurant. Just a 3-minute walk from Marble Arch, this restaurant is the perfect place to refuel. Choose pizzas and pasta dishes or stop for a cocktail, a glass of wine or a quick pint.  

Donostia Restaurant  

With a relaxing atmosphere and a menu full of delectable Mediterranean food, Donostia Restaurant is one of the most popular places to eat around Marble Arch. Here you can enjoy small snacks and larger tapas dishes – perfect for sharing! Cosy up in a corner or take a seat at the bar and watch the chefs cook up the food in the open kitchen.  

Hard Rock Café Oxford Street  

For a fun and unique experience, head to the Hard Rock Café on Oxford Street. Inside the Hard Rock Hotel London, this restaurant lets you escape the bustle of your urban surroundings and enjoy a delicious meal in a rock and roll setting. 

The restaurant is part of a chain of Hard Rock venues worldwide. Guests can enjoy a stylish setting adorned with iconic musical memorabilia. The menu features a range of American dishes served with a British twist.  

Oxford Street

Marble Arch is ideally situated close to famous Oxford Street, perfect if you fancy a bit of shopping. With more than a mile of unbeatable stores, Oxford Street is the ultimate paradise for retail therapy, including the iconic Selfridges flagship. 

Oxford street is only a 15-minute walk from Marble Arch, so you can stroll over at your own pace and admire the surroundings along the way. Alternatively, hop on a tube at Marble Arch station and take the Central (red) line to Oxford Circus station, only one stop away. 

Travelling to London by train?

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Need more information about travelling to London by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to London.