St Paul’s Cathedral
Saint Paul's Cathedral is one of London's most instantly recognisable and iconic UK attractions. Sitting atop Ludgate Hill, looking imperiously over the City of London and the South Bank and Tate Modern, St Paul's Cathedral's Baroque design and famous dome have been an integral part of the London skyline for centuries. Designed and built following the destruction of the original cathedral in the Great Fire of London in 1666, Saint Paul's has become a focal point for many of the nation's celebrations and mourning.
The present Saint Paul’s Cathedral is the fifth cathedral to have been built on the site. It is believed there was even a temple here in Roman times, dedicated to the goddess Diana, although there is no concrete evidence for this. What is known for sure is that there was a Saxon cathedral here, probably built by Augustine missionaries around AD 600.
The wooden cathedral burned down in 675, and was rebuilt in stone in 685 by King Sebbi of Essex. It was destroyed by the Vikings in 961. It was again rebuilt in stone only to be destroyed yet again in a large fire in 1087. The Normans rebuilt the cathedral – out of wood - over the following 200 years, only for it to burn down once more during the Great Fire of London in 1666. Architect, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design a new cathedral in 1668. Work began in 1677, and was completed on 20th October 1708 – Wren’s 76th birthday.
St Paul’s Cathedral is built of Portland stone in a plain English Baroque style. The dome stands 365 feet (108m) in height, and 75m across at the transepts. The internal dome is home to the Whispering Gallery, where visitors can whisper against the wall and it can be heard at any other point, even diametrically opposite, along the wall. Quirkily, this only works for whispered and not normal speech. St Paul’s is also home to Great Paul, the UK’s largest bell, weighing in at an impressive 16 ½ tons.
St Pauls Cathedral was almost destroyed again during the Second World War when it was twice hit by bombs during air aids by the Luftwaffe. Fortunately the great cathedral survived, and a picture of it damaged, but still rising above the smoke and carnage below, served to inspire the nation through these times of adversity.
St Pauls has also played host to the state funerals of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, and Sir Winston Churchill. Charles Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer were married here, and a special service took place at St Paul’s for the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York. Nelson and the Duke of Wellington are laid to rest in the crypt of St Paul’s as are many other notable figures from British history, and as such St Paul’s is one of the most visited UK attractions and London attractions in the UK’s capital.
Daily 09:00 – 16:00
To be confirmed
By Tube: St Paul’s (Central line)
By Bus: Routes 4 11 15 23 26 76 100 172
St Pauls Cathedral is located at St Paul's Churchyard, Cannon Street, London EC4M 8AD tel: + 44 (0) 20 7236 4128