Hyde Park is one of London's Royal Parks, traditionally owned by the British monarchy. It sits near the centre of the city, bordered by Knightsbridge, Bayswater and Mayfair. Covering some 350 acres it is a popular green space for locals and tourists alike to walk, sit or have a picnic. But there is much more to do in Hyde Park besides.
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The Serpentine Gallery sits just to the south of the Serpentine Lake. It puts on exhibitions of modern and contemporary art throughout the year. During the summer, a renowned architect is invited to design a temporary pavilion, so patrons can enjoy the outside space and cafe in novel surroundings.
The Serpentine Lake curls in the middle of Hyde Park. It is a popular spot for a picnic or simply to watch the world go by. It has resident and migratory birdlife. Visitors can hire rowing boats and pedaloes to get out on the water. Braver individuals can take a dip in the lido, which is attached to the lake and open throughout the summer. Two cafes on the shore allow visitors to eat alfresco by the lake's edge.
Walking through the park, visitors can take in a great number of sights. On the northeast corner sits Marble Arch, one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Originally designed as the entrance to Buckingham Palace, it now stands at a busy junction, its back to the park. Elsewhere, visitors can see the memorial fountain built in honour of Diana, Princess of Wales, and a sculpture commemorating the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks. In Kensington Gardens, which runs off Hyde Park, you can visit the Royal Palace of Kensington.
For sports-lovers, the Hyde Park Sports Centre situated to the south of the lake provides tennis courts, bowling greens and a putting course. The southern section of the park is commonly referred to as the "Sports Field" and on most days of the week football, frisbee and any number of activities are in full swing. There is also a horse-riding centre that will take customers around the sandy route of Rotten Row, previously a promenade for upper class Londoners in the eighteenth century. The park is also criss-crossed with bicycle paths, which are also suitable for roller-skating.
Many Londoners love a good argument, and nowhere is this more evident than Speaker's Corner. Located in the northeast of the park, near Marble Arch and Victoria Gate, Speaker's Corner continues a long tradition of debate, and demonstration stretching back to the mid-nineteenth century. Anyone can come along, set up a soapbox and proclaim their views -- and anyone can come along and argue with them. Even if you don't want to join in, just listening is entertainment in itself. Most popular -- and populous -- at the weekend.
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