People watching or social gathering was one of our foremost outdoor activities before the advent of the Internet in our life.
So, before 1990, we used to spend most of our free time outside of our house. We went to the beach, park, or even railway stations for time pass.
In other words, we sought after such places where we bump on to our friends and pick up new friends from the strangers who also throng these public places with the same hope.
People watching is still our favorite activity when we travel. In Europe, you will find large squares (see the title image) in front of a public museum, a palace, or a church.
Visitors to these public buildings spend time in these squares, linger around, eat snacks, take photographs before disbursing.
The so-called ‘squares’ are also known as ‘piazzas’ in some cities. I would call the ‘squares’ or ‘piazzas’ as places for public gathering.
Some squares (not necessarily the shape) will have benches to give rest to the legs of the onlookers.
Top 10 Places in the World for People Watching
Get to know some of the prominent places and public squares in the world for social gathering.
Trafalgar Square, London, England
The familiar Trafalgar Square is a public square located in the heart of London. It is an ideal place for social gathering. The Trafalgar Square is also known as the ‘Charing Cross’.
When the British Army won the Napoleonic War in the battle of Trafalgar, they gave this name to the already popular public square as Trafalgar square.
These public squares, alternatively known in the literature as ‘courtyards’ are also used to celebrate important festivals, national events, and sometimes for staging riots.
While you are in Trafalgar Square, apart from social gathering, you can also choose to see a few more hottest tourist landmarks in London that include:
- Canada House
- Africa House
- The National Gallery
- The Big Ben-the chiming clock tower
- Landseer Lion Statue
The London city has many of the lion’s status.
- The National Gallery
- Nelson’s Column
- St. James Park
- Westminster Palace
- London Eye-an observation wheel (giant wheel)
- Westminster Abbey-the royal church in London
Oh, above all, the lovely fountain that attracts everyone that visits Trafalgar Square is the center of gathering.
It is obvious that Trafalgar Square is not only a place for people watching but a place for several important tourist attractions of London. It is a happening place in London.
Gateway of India, Mumbai
The Gateway of India is one of the most beautiful places for people watching in the world. It doesn’t face any building but faces the Arabian Sea on one side. On its other side is the splendid Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
The Gateway of India is one of the most picturesque public squares in the world. The stunning view of the Arabian Sea, the sound of the roaring waves that crash on the huge boulders, the flocks of pigeons, the happy faces of the visitors make the place ideal for social gathering.
The imposing statue of Chatrapathi Shivaji adds a touch of medieval India to the place.
Ferries continuously take the tourists for a joy ride on the sea. Some ferries go further up to the beautiful Elephanta Caves, a set of cave temples located on Elephanta Island. These caves are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Here is an aerial view of the Gateway of India.
You can spot the ferries floating behind the Indo-Saracenic arch.
Not only the Gateway of India is a place for public gathering but you can go on a sightseeing tour nearby that includes:
- Colaba Causeway-a big shopping mall on the streets of Colaba
- Enjoy eating the most popular street foods of Bombay in the Colaba area.
- Watch a movie in Regal Cinema, Mumbai’s ancient cinema theatre.
The Gateway of India is undoubtedly, a great place for social gathering in India.
Times Square, New York
Times Square in New York City is the most visited tourist landmark in New York. Obviously, such a crowded landmark is earmarked as a public square.
Though Times Square is not like Trafalgar Square that faces a prominent Government building, it is still a large public square where the locals and the tourists gather for merry-making.
The roadside cafes and bars, the surrounding shops, and high-rise buildings that glitter in the late evening attract people of all age groups in large numbers throughout the day.
Times Square is not a typical plaza but a public square.
Piazza Navona, Rome
If a people watching place is called a ‘piazza’, it must be either in Rome or in other parts of Italy.
Piazza Navona is one of the most famous piazzas in Rome and a historical place for public gatherings. The people love the fountains.
See this tour of Piazza Novona tour, Rome.
Tourists love to sit on the parapet walls of the fountain, watch people, and enjoy local snack ‘gelato’. Rome is a place of gaiety-right?
The piazza Navona is facing the spectacular church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. This public square is filled with stunning sculptures that are typically Italian.
Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
OMG! What an imposing place for public and social gathering! The sprawling Plaza Mayor is located in the heart of Madrid city, the capital of Spain. This public square is surrounded by gorgeous municipal buildings that are built with as many as 230+ balconies.
The architecture of the Casa de la Panadería is very attractive and so much different from the architecture in Italy.
The Plaza Mayor is obviously a public gathering place where the people of Madrid and tourists assemble just to enjoy the open space and interact with others.
During Christmas time, the Plaza Mayor is turned into a daylong shopping area. Interestingly, the plaza attracts collectors of coins and stamps on Sundays.
I read even the highly popular bullfight competitions were staged in the Plaza Mayor.
St. Peter’s Square, Rome
I am sure you now recognize the dome behind St. Peter’s Piazza. It is none other than the St. Peter Basilica, the seat of Pope in Vatican City, Rome.
This extremely crowded place for public gathering is also known as “Piazza San Pietro”.
See the image below.
Have you ever been so awestruck after seeing this view of the city of Rome from the dome of the St. Peter Basilica?
Undoubtedly, St. Peter’s Piazza is the most awesome place for watching people in the world. It is so big a place because thousands of people can see the Pope at a time.
Zocalo, being one of the largest public squares in the world has been the place for social gathering in Mexico city, the capital of Mexico.
From as early as the times of Aztec, this ‘main square’ in Mexico City is a place for public gatherings, Governmental ceremonies, and festivals.
Red Square, Moscow
Red Square is one of the largest places for social gathering in the world. It is facing the ‘Kremlin’, Russia’s seat of power. It measures a whopping 800,000 Sq. Ft
Being a historical site and the most famous square in Moscow, it is coming under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites category.
The Red Square is in the vicinity of several stunningly beautiful buildings of Russia that include:
- Resurrection Gate
- Kremlin Wall
- Saint Basil’s Cathedral
What a beauty!
- Kazan Cathedral
- Gum Departmental Store
OMG! A departmental store that looks like a palace!
- State Historical Museum
- Kremlin Tower
I would rate the Red Square more beautiful and imposing than the St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
Old Town Square, Prague
This place for people watching is located in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.
The public square is amidst several beautiful buildings and statues.
The plaza also is transformed into a lively market during Christmas and Easter festivals.
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
The Tiananmen square notoriously known as the place of Tiananmen Protests and Massacres (1989), and it located in the center of Beijing, the capital of China.
These public squares, piazzas, and plazas best known as great places for people watching in the world.