St Paul's Cathedral
The fifth and current iteration of St. Paul’s Cathedral was consecrated in 1708, but the diocese of St. Paul’s has been in existence since 604AD. After the Great Fire of 1666, the decision was made to rebuild the cathedral from scratch rather than trying to restore the severely damaged Gothic version. The new design, by architect Sir Christopher Wren, was a Greek cross in the Baroque Renaissance style. The cross pattern was anchored by a massive dome, inspired by the one at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The first mass was held in 1697, but the cathedral was not totally finished until 1711, and many of the roof statues were only added in the 1720s.
The inside of the dome is vividly frescoed with the life of St. Paul. Saint Paul’s is one of London’s most famous landmarks, and from 1710 until 1962 it was the city’s tallest building at 111m. The crypt is home to several famous Britons, as well as plaques and memorials. Directly beneath the dome lies Admiral Horatio Nelson. Architect Sir Christopher Wren is interred here as well. The roster isn’t quite as impressive as the one at Westminster Abbey.
The dome is open to visitors and if you can brave the 528 steps, the view of London is amazing. Running around the circumference of the dome’s interior, 30m up is the Whispering Gallery. From here, even a whisper is audible throughout the dome. The interior is lavishly decorated with ornate wood paneling and colorful frescoes. Free guided tours are available and are very informative. Eat at the café at your own risk, as it is much more expensive than food options in the surrounding neighborhood.
Address: Paternoster Square, EC4
Telephone: +44 020 7246 8350
Metro: St. Paul’s (Central)
Hours: Open Monday to Saturday 08:30-16:00; closed to tourists on Sunday and holidays.
£22.50 Senior (60+)/Student
£4.50 Children (6-18)