In praise of St Paul’s, one of London’s greatest buildings

St Paul’s Cathedral has been the scene of some great events in British history: the funeral of Winston Churchill, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth 11, the funeral of Wellington, the bombing of the blitz in the Second World War.

We watched the Diamond Jubilee service take place in St Paul’s last week so I thought it was time for another visit to this wonderful building and although I know it well, I was bowled over again as I explored it. There are no pictures allowed inside but the exterior is so grand, iconic and beautiful that it is hard to stop snapping!

The first thing I saw before  I entered the church was a great reminder of the Diamond Jubilee history of the church as there is a stone recording Queen Victoria’s visit in 1897.

There has been a church on this site since 604 and the current church was built following the destruction of the previous one in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is a masterpiece by Christopher Wren who was the architect for many post-fire buildings. This one is an iconic part of the London skyline with its instantly recognisable dome. One of the amazing facts you find out on your visit is that the dome is actually 2 domes, one on top of the other, because the full dome would be too high to see properly when you are inside, so the smaller one inside brings the paintings within sight. Clever bloke that Wren!

Make sure you allow plenty of time for your visit as you’ll want to spend time seeing the wonderful interior, the huge crypt with Wellington and Nelson’s tombs as well as plaques to a wide range of famous people. You get an audio guide as part of your entry fee so do use it to give you lots of good info as well as a guide through the various places to visit.

For the energetic there are the 3 galleries to climb up to.  The famous Whispering Gallery is 257 steps up and is a fun visit as if you stand on one side you can whisper something and another person across the dome can hear you. You’ll see lots of people trying. As well as this you get great views of the dome and down into the cathedral floor. For those with a head for heights and good legs there are 2 further galleries, both on the outside of the dome. The Stone Gallery is 121 steps up from the Whispering Gallery but the Golden Gallery right at the top is the one to go for if you are up to it – a further 152 steps and 365 feet above the floor of the cathedral! The view is 360 degrees and incredible –  down the river through Tower Bridge and to the nearly-completed Shard tower, to the City across One New Change shopping centre’s roof, upriver to the London Eye and curves of the river Thames. the ‘Wobbly Bridge’ with the Tate Modern and the Globe theatre and way over in the distance to the Olympic Park and the Orbit red tower.

Towards the Shard and Tower Bridge

The City and One New Change roof in the foreground

Upstream along the curve of the Thames

‘Wobbly bridge’, Tate Modern and The Globe Theatre

Hopefully, you will want to visit St Paul’s Cathedral or revisit it as a second viewing is well worth it.  I have one more photo before I sign off as I want to show you this wonderful building at night when it is magical.

Bye for now,

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