St Paul’s Cathedral lies at the heart of this vibrant, international city. Its dome is iconic on the London skyline but inside St Paul’s there is more to explore. Discover the beauty of Christopher Wren’s building, encounter the history and people of this nation and witness the 21st century church.
A cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood on this site for over 1400 years. The buildings have changed and the services have been updated, but throughout it has remained a busy working church, where millions have come to find peace and encounter the enduring love of God in a fast-moving world.
St Paul’s Cathedral, whose dome dominates London’s skyline, is England’s architectural masterpiece and place of national celebration. The cathedral was designed by the famed architect Sir Christopher Wren, after the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed its predecessor. The cathedral took 35 years to build from 1675 – 1710, spanning the lives of five monarchs and was the first cathedral to have been built in its architect’s lifetime.
St Paul’s Cathedral is where people and events of overwhelming national significance have been celebrated, mourned or commemorated. From state funerals for British heroes such as Sir Winston Churchill, to the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, and National Services of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilee’s of Her Majesty the Queen.
Once blackened by pollution, St Paul’s has undergone 15 years of careful internal and external restoration work. This work was completed in 2011 to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the present cathedral which was celebrated between 2010 and 2011. St Paul’s is again filled with a wonderful natural light and the true magnificence of the Portland stone, glittering mosaics and the Thornhill paintings which adorn the inside of the dome can be fully appreciated.
To explore the building and uncover its stories, a touch-screen multimedia guide is included in the admission price for all individual visitors and available in English, British Sign Language, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. The guide combines film, new photography as well as a detailed audio commentary to provide an engaging visit experience for visitors. Tours of the cathedral floor and crypt led by cathedral guides run four times daily; individual visitors can join these on arrival at no extra cost and they last 90 minutes (spaces are limited). Groups benefit from the provision of a new Group Tour System whereby a tour leader can clearly communicate their own commentary, mixed with the audio commentary from the multimedia guide, to all group members using a transmitter to individual receivers and headsets. Groups can alternatively visit with their own Blue Badge guide, or hire a cathedral guide for a private tour at a small additional cost per person.
Visitors can climb the 257 steps to the Whispering Gallery to test the unique acoustics. Climb 119 further steps to the Stone Gallery and then 152 final steps to the Golden Gallery, both affording spectacular panoramic views across London.
Take time to visit the crypt to view the many tombs and memorials to world-famous Britons, including Lord Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. Visitors will also find the award winning ‘Oculus; an eye into St Paul’s’ exhibition located in the crypt. Oculus is a 270˚ HD film experience that brings 1400 years of history to life. Oculus takes visitors to Saxon London amidst the construction of the first St Paul’s in 604AD, through the buildings on the site that have fallen to fire and disrepair, before showing them the Great Fire of 1666 and the devastation of London during the Blitz when St Paul’s became a lasting symbol of strength, survival and hope for the nation.
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