I would hazard a guess that the majority of first time visitors to the City of London want to see St Paul’s Cathedral more than anything else, and it’s not hard to see why.
This magnificent structure built by Sir Christopher Wren, is more than just another church. It’s an architectural delight with a host of famous people buried within its walls – but more than that, for British people at least, it’s a landmark that is remembered for defying the might of the Luftwaffe during the blitz.
Before making your way over there it would be useful to know what to expect as it’s very different from Westminster Abbey.
Whereas Westminster Abbey is medieval in origin with gothic additions, St Paul’s is 17th century and has been described as English Baroque which seems a fair description to me even though I’m no expert on architectural terms.
Many people will know that Sir Christopher Wren was hired to re-build St Paul’s after the Great Fire of London, but perhaps not so many people will know that the Norman church that stood here until 1666 was one of the biggest in Europe, if not the world, with a spire that reached close to 150m high. It wasn’t just the height of the church that made it impressive but also its length.
Sundays are reserved for worship only, but if, like me, you just want to visit the Cathedral to marvel at its architecture, then please note that photography is not permitted.
I also have to mention that admission prices are steep and it’s imperative that you visit the website beforehand, because unlike Westminster Abbey, there’s more interest here for British people than international visitors, mainly because the tombs and memorials are generally of war heroes and the like.
Much of this is in the Crypt, but you should still come down here to see the tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington – and of course Sir Christopher Wren himself.
Famous names associated with St Paul’s are not just restricted to the colonial past though.
Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral was held here as was Margaret Thatcher’s – and of course Princess Diana married Prince Charles here – but none of them are buried at St Paul’s.
If you have the stamina you can climb the steps up to the galleries, which I have to confess I haven’t managed yet. They take you up into the dome and are well worth the climb I believe, if you’re up for it.
St Paul’s is an easy place to get to by public transport as you would expect, and here’s the link to that their website.