St Paul's Cathedral
The City of London's most magnificent landmark and, although no longer commanding the skyline as it did prior to the construction of tower blocks, the sheer boldness of its huge dome and great double columned west front are memorable. Christopher Wren's Cathedral, built 1675 - 1710, captures the peculiarly English trait of compromise, combining Gothic precedent and new ideals, while balancing large scale forms with human scale detail.
The cavernous octagonal intersection between nave, choir and transepts forms the internal focal point, and here 100ft above the floor, is the famous Whispering Gallery, where whispers against the wall on one side can be heard near the wall opposite. You can ascend higher still; at the dome's balustrade level 182ft high, the Stone Gallery gives a good panoramic view over London; and, for the more adventurous, it is possible to go on up to the Golden Gallery at 281ft, via open metal stairs between the inner and outer domes.
Many other notable features include: choir stalls and organ case carved by Grinling Gibbons, ironwork by Jean Tijou, monuments to, and tombs of many famous people including Nelson, Wellington, Jellicoe, Reynolds and Turner. Wren himself was the first person to be buried here, and his simple black marble tomb carries the inscription 'Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you'.
St Paul's is the seat of the Bishopric of London, and Parish Church of the Commonwealth; it is the third cathedral on the site, the first possibly dated from the ordination of Millitus by St Augustine c.604; the second, an elaborate Gothic structure, was largely destroyed in the Great Fire 1666. The last stone of Wren's building - the master being then aged 78 - was placed on top of the lantern by his son.
Together with many other chapels in St Paul's there is the American Chapel, which was dedicated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and the then Vice-President Nixon of the United States.
Admission charge for sightseers.
City of London (District)
Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 4pm
Open on Sunday for services only
Telephone: 020 7246 8357
Address: St Paul's Churchyard, EC4M 8AD
Website: St Paul's Cathedral
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