England is a country of strict manners, immensely prim and proper. This is reflected not only in the mentality of the people, but also in the world-famous attractions of the state. For centuries, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London has been called the epitome of British national treasure. It is one of the main architectural relics of the capital and an instantly recognizable religious site.
The large-scale structure is second only to Liverpool Cathedral in size, but the beauty of its exterior and interior decoration far exceeds that of any Anglican church. St. Paul is certainly a trademark of the city, constantly appearing on souvenir products and in tourist materials.
History of St. Paul’s Cathedral
October 1708 is referred to as the official opening date of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Few people know that the modern structure of the State Church of England is the fifth version to be erected at the highest point of England on the summit of Langate Hill. The history of St. Paul begins in 604. It is known from extant documents that it was built by King Sabert with the active support of the priest Mellit, who was appointed bishop of the kingdom. The wooden temple lasted almost 70 years, burned down in 675, and was immediately revived from the ashes. The new church survived until 961 and fell foul of the Vikings, who wanted to reclaim British territories.
The third St. Paul’s Cathedral called the congregation to worship with the ringing of bells as early as 962. Stone was now used for construction. However, it, too, was consumed by fire during the large-scale fires that were not uncommon in the London streets of the time.
The fourth St. Paul’s Cathedral appeared in London in 1087. It was not completed until 153 years later – the religious site was consecrated only in 1240. During the next century, the church was repeatedly rebuilt, changing the Romanesque style of architecture to Gothic. The structure turned out to be huge. Its length was 180 meters, and the height of the spire was truly grand for medieval London – 149 m.
In the centuries that followed, St. Paul’s did not stop being destroyed. Numerous interior elements of St. Paul’s Cathedral underwent changes or were destroyed altogether during the years of the Reformation of the Catholic Church. In 1561 the huge spire caught fire from a lightning strike, and during Oliver Cromwell’s rule of the English Republic, the church began to be dismantled for construction of the King-Protector’s palace. In the early fall of 1666, a four-day fire in London devastated more than 12,000 homes, 90 churches, and St. Paul’s Cathedral was among them.
Two years later, the bishops of Oxford, Canterbury and London decided to restore the shrine. Christopher Wren, an eminent mechanic and mathematician, was chosen for the role of architect, tasked with creating a cathedral that would wordlessly exalt the nation. Work on the project took several years, the last stone was not laid in the wall until 1708, and the official end of construction was announced on Christmas night in 1711. Christopher Wren saw his creation in all its glory, which was the highest reward for an architect.
St. Paul’s Cathedral occupies a special place in the minds of Britons. In the walls of the majestic religious building are held important services, such as the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, is the seat of the Bishop of London. The beauty of its facades delights both residents of England and visitors to the country.
Video about the history of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Architectural features of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Did you know that there is a law forbidding the construction of buildings next to St. Paul’s Cathedral that would block the view of its walls? This is necessary so that all those interested can consider the complexity of the architectural design. To realize his project, Christopher Wren resorted to an unconventional combination of various materials, came up with bold engineering designs that still fascinate the world’s experts in the field of urban planning. Today St. Paul’s Cathedral is recognized as an outstanding example among all domed structures in Europe.
Until the 1960s, St. Paul was considered the tallest structure on the capital’s streets. St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is 111 meters or 365 feet high, towering over the city. It mixes Baroque and Classical, English Gothic and Medieval architectural traditions. Christopher Wren, who is the architect of the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral, has thought of every detail to make the structure really solid and impressive.
The eminent architect, while working on the English shrine, employed the most modern construction advances and techniques of the time:
- The dome of the cathedral is supported by eight columns;
- St. Paul’s shrine is located beneath the entire area of the building;
- The weight of the domed ceilings is redistributed to the arkbutans built into the walls.
The new building, thanks to the superior architectural skill of Mr. Wren and his assistants, was not damaged even during World War II.
When tourists first visit the inside of St. Paul, they are in awe. The interior of the religious building is worthy of the highest praise. Here the underdome space is decorated with frescoes by Thornhill, and near the altar there is a unique mosaic of Venetian glass, created back in 1860. It depicts birds, animals and flowers. The altar itself is decorated with gilding, and in the center you can see a crucifix and sculptures depicting saints.
The huge 18th-century granite font at the entrance in the first grass is impressive. On either side of it are small chapels – St. George and St. Michael and St. Dunstan’s. The wood organ case and pews were created by the talented carver Greenling Gibbons. They are perfectly preserved to this day.
Tomb of great men
It’s hard to believe, but the burials take up almost the entire floor of the crypt. The first to be laid to rest here was the one who built St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It was Mr. Wren who died in 1723.
In addition to the creator of St. Paul’s, no less famous people are buried in the tomb:
- the famous scientist Alexander Fleming;
- Winston Churchill;
- Henry Hallam;
- Florence Nightingale;
- Margaret Thatcher and other great figures.
Visitors to St. Paul’s Cathedral are forced to literally trample on the tombstones of prominent Englishmen. However, the ministers of the shrine are not at all embarrassed by this state of affairs. The shrine has a modernly equipped spacious hall where various conferences, corporate meetings and celebrations are held.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is truly amazing. Here you can see 67 unique monumental statues erected in honor of outstanding people who made a special contribution to the economy, politics, culture and the general formation of Great Britain.
Among them the most significant are the sculptures depicting:
- Lord G. Nelson;
- The rector of the cathedral, J.J. Doyle, is a member of the Council of the Lord’s Supper. Donna;
- Duke A. Wellington.
All of them and about 200 other great men of England rest in the cathedral crypt.
When tourists come to London, St. Paul’s Cathedral is the first thing they see. Many foreign visitors are attracted by the majestic architectural monument, and a walk through its galleries is a total delight. Of particular interest is the Whispering Gallery located inside. It got its name because of the amazing acoustics, which during the construction of St. Paul’s the architects did not take into account. Here the word spoken at one end of the gallery can be heard perfectly at a distance of 34 meters. From the first floor of St. Paul’s Church, it is reached by 260 steps.
This part of St. Paul stands proudly above the buildings of London. The massive dome of the cathedral rests on a peristyle, which appears to viewers airy and incredibly graceful because of the pseudo windows and paired pilasters. The stone gallery under the domed roof is a ring of hidden arcbutans, it cannot be passed through. The interior interior dome “hangs” from a cone of brickwork. Its shape is slightly spherical – this was necessary to securely place the element between the two shells. It is illuminated by the light coming through the many windows above the balustrade.
The highest point of the dome is the Golden Gallery. This is the observation deck, which is accessed by 528 steps. Above the miniature laterna dome, the Cross of the Savior shines with golden iridescence.
It is noteworthy that during World War II, when bombs were exploding over the capital and its streets were in flames, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was unscathed. This is what the English call a true miracle.
St. Paul’s Cathedral opening hours and ticket prices
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. St. Paul’s is open daily except Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are held here between services at intervals of 60 minutes from 11 to 14. There are also Russian-speaking guides, so the walk in a tour group will be very rich and informative.
Tickets cost between £16 and £18, depending on how you buy them. Children under the age of 6 can pass for free.
On the territory of the shrine can not be allowed with a camera or video camera – take photos and shoot video there is strictly prohibited.
How do I get to St. Paul’s Cathedral?
St. Paul’s Cathedral on a map of London can be found by coordinates:
- latitude: 51.5138453;
- longitude: -0.0983506
Address: St. John the Baptist. Paul’s Churchyard, EC4.
St. Paul’s Cathedral on a map of London
The monument of medieval architecture is located 500 meters from Blackfires Bridge. There are several ways to get to the attraction:
- by bus number 4, 15, 23, 242, 100;
- by taking the electric train to the City-Tamslink stop and walking along Fleet Street in an easterly direction;
- by subway, getting off at St. Paul station.