A Brief History of Victoria Square, Birmingham

Victoria Squares The River in 2008
Victoria Square's 'The River' in 2008 | © liz_com1981 / Flickr

Freelance Travel & Music Writer

Birmingham has many public squares, and this one is arguably its most famous one. Named after Queen Victoria, this central area of the city houses the grand Council House, the city’s town hall and welcomes one of the biggest German Christmas markets in the world to its streets each winter. Read on to discover the history of Victoria Square, Birmingham!

The early history of Victoria Square

Victoria Square’s history dates back to the early 1800s, when it was occupied by Christ Church, a parish church active between 1813–1897 and later demolished. Shortly after Christ Church came the construction of the Grade I-listed Birmingham Town Hall (1832–1834), one of the first British examples of 19th-century Roman architecture and originally built to host Birmingham’s Triennial Music Festival.

Christ Church, centre, between Council House (left) and Town Hall (right)

In 1874, the building of the city’s impressive, Grade II-listed Council House structure started as the square began to be known as Council House Square. Its construction came to an end in 1879, but two further extensions were to follow in 1881 and 1911, catering to the ever-growing museum and art gallery. Both the Council House and Town Hall still stand in their original forms today.

Development of Victoria Square

In 1901, city leaders renamed Council House Square to Victoria Square in honour of the Queen, who unfortunately died just 12 days later.

Often seen as the most central point of the city, Victoria Square is the meeting point of three main roads – New Street, Colmore Row and Paradise Street – and was once one of the busiest interchanges in the city. By the mid-1900s, plans were drawn up for the remodelling of Victoria Square in a bid to open up Colmore Row to more cars, but those plans were subsequently quashed.

The Council House on Victoria Square, Birmingham in 1983

By the 1990s, a completely different set of plans were put in place. In 1992, work began on turning Victoria Square into a fully pedestrianised area with a water fountain (known locally as Floozie in the Jacuzzi) installed. In 1994, Princess Diana opened Victoria Square as we know it today.

Victoria Square’s ‘The River’ in 2008

Notable monuments and installations in Victoria Square

The pedestrianisation of Victoria Square transformed central Birmingham and opened up the city centre, with visitors now able to visit the square with ease.

However, redevelopment of the square saw some original features removed, with the only original statue to remain on the square being Thomas Brock’s 1901 Queen Victoria statue, which was later recast in bronze by William Bloye (1951).

Iron:Man statue, Victoria Square

In 1993, Anthony Gormley’s 20-foot (six-metre) Iron:Man statue, a homage to the city’s industrial skills (and probably a slight reference to the Birmingham band Black Sabbath’s song of the same name) was unveiled. Iron:Man was placed into storage in 2017 to allow for the city’s central tram line extension.

Victoria Square’s most prominent installation is Floozie in the Jacuzzi – officially known as The River – completed in 1993. It was a working fountain up until 2013 when irreparable faults caused the water to be switched off. The River also features two prominent Guardian Sphinx on either side of it, and since 2015, it has housed hundreds of flowers and plants.

Floozie in the… garden, Victoria Square

Victoria Square today

Today, Victoria Square is a bustling connecting area of the city that sees millions of visitors each year flock there. Take the Town Hall, for example, a stunning concert hall and event space, with Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery just opposite welcoming visitors to its vast array of exhibitions and installations.

Victoria Square also holds a number of food-and-drink festivals throughout the summer, with its pièce de résistance taking place in winter – as the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria takes over the square and its surrounding areas for around six weeks.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.