Nearest Tube: Leicester Square
The name of this famous London district comes from the shouts of 'So-ho!' that the royal huntsmen of Whitehall Palace used to make when they hunted in the area. Today the area known as Soho is a small quadrangle stretching from Regent Street in the west to Charing Cross Road in the East, and bordered by Oxford Street in the north and Shaftesbury Avenue in the south.
In the seventies the area was best known as London's sex centre with strip shows, peep shows and sex shops by the dozen. In the eighties however, legislation was introduced to reduce the number of sex establishments and so since then the area has cleaned up its image dramatically. The sex industry is still very much in evidence, but today's atmosphere is one of lively fun rather than sleaze. Clubs pubs and restaurants abound and the area stays awake much longer than many other parts of the city.
Nowadays Soho is equally well known for its ethnic communities - most notably Chinatown is located in the district. Naturally this means that there is also a myriad of ethnic restaurants in the area - so Soho is a good place to head for if you want a meal.
The other things that the area is famous for are theatres, cinemas, markets and bookshops. There are five theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue alone, whilst Leicester Square is home to several cinemas. Charing Cross Road has lots of high street bookshops whereas Cecil Court is the place to go for second hand books. Two of the markets that the district is home to are Carnaby Street and Berwick Street fruit and vegetable market.
In recent years, Soho has also become a well-established gay and lesbian venue with lots of gay bars, cafes and clubs opening in the area. Old Compton Street is particularly well known for its gay scene.
Covent Garden lies to the east of Soho, and although it is not technically part of the district it is often referred to as being part of Soho. Therefore the tourist sites around Covent Garden such as Covent Garden Piazza, the Royal Opera House, the Theatre Museum and London Transport Museum are also regarded by many as being part of Soho.
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