Soho (7)

It is one of the most vibrant and liveliest districts in London. The three most repeated adjectives to describe this London district that is more or less formed of the area between Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus are lively, cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic.

Home to the Chinese community concentrated in the small Chinatown, whose epicentre is Gerrard Street, they say that Soho has been a district particularly receptive to foreigners, since in 1685 a considerable community of Huguenots settled there, fleeing from France after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, thus prohibiting freedom of worship.

The reality of this bustling series of small streets means that traditionally it has had the libertine reputation due to the presence of brothels, cabarets and striptease clubs. Nevertheless, its inhabitants still feel a sense of community and today its cultural nature and leisure aspect really stand out. Rich, poor, artists, intellectuals, prostitutes, writers... have all shared this space. 

If in the 1960s fashion was one of the sectors that made Soho stand out, with places of almost religious pilgrimage such as the shops of Carnaby Street, today the areas surrounding Soho Square and Wardour Street have become a referent in the audiovisual sector. Film and television producers, advertising agencies and artists’ managers have in recent years turned this part of the city into their general headquarters.

In Berwick Street you can nose around the enticing record shops and a few minutes later buy some fruit from a stall in its small but varied street market. Do not go on a Sunday though, because it will be closed. 

The area surrounding Old Compton Street is also the centre of the London gay community, where there are a large number of leisure venues, such as the classic Admiral Duncan pub.

The most likely origin of the name of the district is really curious. Unlike New York’s Soho, which owes its name to the contraction of the expression “South of Houston Street”, the origin of London’s Soho is not really known, though there are several hypotheses. One is that in the past London’s Soho was a hunting ground, and the word “soho”, an old cry used by the hunters: “Soho, there goes the fox!", but no-one really knows.

We recommend you lose yourself among its streets. Design shops, artists’ studios, hairdressers, coexist alongside the greengrocers’ shops of Chinese produce or traditional shops where you can only buy cheese, for example. A unique mixture that, along with the profusion of cafés, theatres, nightclubs and restaurants, make Soho a thrilling place to visit.

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