St. Paul’s Cathedral remains to be one of London’s most enduring landmarks. The building was designed by architect Christopher Wren.
Exit the tube at St. Paul’s station.
Exit at St. Paul’s station, north of the cathedral, then walk through Paternoster Square. This square houses many financial firms and the London Stock Exchange. You will see the Temple Bar that has been relocated stone-by-stone through the years, finally finding a home here. Continue through the south side of the square to reach St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Saturday, with the final admission being at 4pm. There is a fee to visit St. Paul’s. Sunday worship is free.
Founded around 604, St. Paul’s Cathedral is located on Ludgate Hill. Although nothing remains of the first church, the second St. Paul’s was built 675 through 685 when St. Earconwald was Bishop of London. Either this church or the one that followed was burnt down by the Danes in 962. St. Paul’s was rebuilt and that cathedral burned down in 1087 and was replaced with a Norman building which remained until the Great Fire of 1666. Christopher Wren is responsible for the third building, of English Rennaissance architecture, which was built to a Latin cross plan.
The first foundation stone was laid on June 21, 1675, with work continuing for more than three decades, when at last, Wren watched his son lay the final brick in 1708. When Christopher Wren died in 1723, he was entombed at St. Paul’s.
St. Paul’s is certainly not small and there is much about the building that is large, including the biggest bell in Britain, the largest crypt in Europe, topped by a dome that weighs 65,000 tonnes!
There is plenty to explore at St. Paul’s, including the nave, the Whispering Gallery, where if one whispers against the walls it can be heard on the opposite side and the American Memorial Chapel. Allow yourself about two hours to visit.
A Visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral
Exit to the south of the cathedral then continue east on Watling Street. You will see the modern shopping center One New Change, designed by Jean Nouvel. The building offers some sixty shops and a rooftop cafe where you may want to stop for lunch or refreshment while enjoying a fantastic view of St. Paul’s.
Leaving One New Change, turn left on Bow Lane, then right to reach St. Mary-Le-Bow. Originally designed by Christopher Wren, the building was destroyed during the Second World War and was rebuilt after the war.
The church bells are said to be the same ones that called Dick Whittington back to the City from Highgate during the 1600s. It was also said that a true “cockney” is someone who was born within the sound of the bells. The bells suffered damage and were shattered during WW2; they have since been recast.
This is another Christopher Wren building. A golden dragon sits upon the church’s steeple which is considered to be Wren’s best. In the basement of the church is a quiet cafe, The Cafe Below if you feel like something to eat or drink in a very unique setting.
St. Mary Le Bow
Following your visit, backtrack to Watling Street, walk east, turn right at Queen Street, then left at Cannon Street to reach Cannon Street tube station where your tour ends.
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