St. Paul’s is a Church of England cathedral that sits atop Ludgate Hill,
the highest point in the City of London, and is one of its most famous and most
recognizable sights. With a dome that ranks among the tallest in the world, St.
Paul’s stands at 365 ft (111 m) high and is the second largest church in
the UK. Dating back to the late 17th century, it was built during major
rebuilding works after the Great Fire of London and its dome surrounded by
church spires has graced the London skyline for
300 years. Not just a tourist spot, St. Paul’s is a busy working church,
with services every day.
St. Paul’s dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to 604 AD, with
4 previous churches having been built on the site—all damaged or destroyed by
fire (in 962, 1087, 1136 and 1666). Though the last of these offered the chance
for complete reconstruction, the decision was taken to build a completely new
and modern church instead. Sir Christopher Wren, having previously designed over
fifty City churches, was in charge of designing the new St. Paul’s, and the
building went through 5 stages of design as critics forced him to abandon his
original ideas. The final design was heavily influenced by St.Peter's Basilica
in Rome and the saucer domes
were inspired by François Mansart's Val-de-Grâce, which Wren had seen when
visiting Paris. The new
St. Paul’s opened 32 years after having been burned down, the total cost of
construction in 1716 being £1,095,556 (£147 million as of 2013).
The cathedral has a large crypt with 200 memorials, but holds very few
treasures as many were stolen. There are many plaques, carvings, statues,
memorials, and tombs of famous British figures including: Christopher Wren, Lord
Nelson, Henry Moore, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Alexander Fleming and Florence
Nightingale. The apse of the cathedral holds the American Memorial Chapel and,
built entirely by donations from British people, honors American men and women
who died in World War II.
There is much to do on your visit to St. Paul’s. You can climb the dome up
to the Whispering Gallery and test out its unique acoustics, before climbing a
few more steps (271 of them) to the Golden Gallery to enjoy a breathtaking view
of London. Try
one of the fly-through videos and zoom in on the amazing mosaics and paintings.
Or take a guided tour to learn about the cathedral’s history, architecture,
and daily life, before traveling back in time with the 270˚ film exhibition,
Oculus, taking you through 1,400 years of history. Finally, you can head to The
Restaurant for a quintessentially English afternoon tea.
Admission for sightseers is about £14.50 (£12.50 when buying online), but
those attending services or wanting a quiet place to pray (at St.
Dunstan's Chapel) are not charged to do so. St. Paul's Cathedral is open for
sightseeing every Monday to Saturday. There is no sightseeing on Sundays.
Mon - Sat: 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Child (6-17): £7.00
Concessions (Students & Seniors): £14.00
Phone: +44 20 7246 8350