St. Paul’s Cathedral – London Attractions

St. Paul's Cathedral

Updated On: April 27, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

St. Paul’s Cathedral—as its name says—has been dedicated to St. Paul for over 1,400 years at the highest point in the city, Ludgate Hill. It attracts millions of visitors and gives them the chance and permission to learn more about its history. This cathedral in London is an Anglican Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London.

A Brief History

St Paul’s Cathedral | London | St Paul’s Cathedral London

The history of St. Paul’s Cathedral dates back to the earliest days of London’s existence. The first church on this site was founded in 604 AD by King Ethelbert of Kent. However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that the cathedral, as we know it today, began to take shape. In 1666, a devastating fire ravaged London, destroying much of the city, including the medieval St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In the aftermath of the Great Fire, Sir Christopher Wren, one of Britain’s most renowned architects, was commissioned to design a new cathedral. Wren’s vision was ambitious, aiming to create a structure that would serve as a place of worship and stand as a testament to London’s resilience and vitality. Construction began in 1675, and over more than three decades, St. Paul’s Cathedral gradually rose from the ashes, culminating in its completion in 1710.

The Design of St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul's cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral

The present-day Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral, dates back to the 17th century and was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. It was completed during Wren’s lifetime and was part of a major rebuilding programme in the city after the Great Fire of London. This cathedral is actually believed to be the fourth standing at the same place.

Exploring the Cathedral building from the outside is considered one of the breathtaking views visitors to London always feel interested in seeing. Also, knowing what this building looks like from the inside is regarded as one of the exciting things for visitors to explore.

Spiritual Significance

Throughout its long history, St. Paul’s Cathedral has played a central role in London’s spiritual and cultural life. As the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London, it remains a place of worship and pilgrimage for Christians from around the world. Regular services are held in the cathedral’s magnificent nave, allowing visitors to experience the beauty and solemnity of Anglican worship in a truly awe-inspiring setting.

In addition to its religious significance, St. Paul’s Cathedral has served as a backdrop for some of the most important events in British history. The cathedral has witnessed countless events shaping the nation’s course, from royal weddings and state funerals to national celebrations and commemorations. Its iconic dome has become synonymous with resilience and defiance, symbolising hope and endurance in adversity.

What’s Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral

There are different parts inside the cathedral to be discovered: the high altar, the dome, the second largest in the world. The crypt where the tombs are found (Nelson’s tomb, Wellington’s tomb, Sir Christopher Wren’s tomb). The Oculus is an eye into St. Paul’s that is brought through a film that brings together 1,400 years of history. You can also check out the many chapels, such as the All Souls Chapel and Dunstan’s Chapel.

Walking through all these unique parts of the cathedral will provide visitors with different information about it and allow them to learn more about its appearance and history.

The Cathedral Dome

St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most well-known sights since its dome dominates the sky. At 365 feet tall, it was the tallest building in London between 1710 and 1967. This dome is one of the highest in the world and the second highest in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.

London Bus Tour

You could see this cathedral while on the hop-on-hop-off London bus tour, which goes through the city streets. This tour introduces people to the different landmarks and attractions found here. Depending on what you want to see, you can stop off at many locations and get a closer look at the exciting attractions.

Have you ever had the chance to visit St. Paul Cathedral? Or visit any other attractions on the London bus tour? We would love to hear about your experiences 🙂

A Place of Worship and Reflection

Beyond its architectural splendour, St. Paul’s Cathedral holds a special place in the hearts of Londoners and visitors alike as a place of worship, reflection, and commemoration. The cathedral has played host to numerous historic events, including the funerals of iconic figures such as Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Today, St. Paul’s continues to be an active place of worship, hosting daily services, concerts, and special events throughout the year. Visitors are welcome to attend services or simply explore the cathedral at their own pace, soaking in its serene atmosphere and rich history.

Visitor Experience

For tourists visiting London, a trip to St. Paul’s Cathedral is a must-see experience. The cathedral offers guided tours led by knowledgeable guides who provide insight into its history, architecture, and significance. Visitors can explore the crypt, home to the tombs of some of Britain’s most illustrious figures, including Admiral Lord Nelson and Sir Christopher Wren. They can also climb the 528 steps to the top of the dome, where they are rewarded with breathtaking views of the city below.

For those seeking a more profound spiritual experience, St. Paul’s Cathedral offers regular worship services and special events such as concerts, lectures, and exhibitions. The cathedral’s awe-inspiring interior provides the perfect setting for reflection, prayer, and contemplation, offering visitors a moment of respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Preservation and Conservation

St Paul’s Cathedral London – Things to Do in London

Preserving St. Paul’s Cathedral for future generations requires ongoing care and attention. The cathedral’s historic fabric must be carefully maintained to preserve its integrity and beauty for years to come. To this end, the St. Paul’s Cathedral Foundation oversees a comprehensive program of conservation and restoration, which includes regular inspections, repairs, and cleaning.

In recent years, efforts have also been made to enhance the visitor experience at St. Paul’s Cathedral with improvements to facilities and interpretation materials. The cathedral welcomes visitors of all ages and backgrounds, offering educational programs for schools and community groups and special events and activities for families.

Surviving Adversity

St. Paul’s Cathedral has weathered its fair share of adversity over the centuries. During World War II, it miraculously survived the Blitz, withstanding numerous bombings that destroyed much of the surrounding area. The image of St. Paul’s Cathedral standing tall amidst the smoke and rubble became a powerful symbol of hope and resilience for the people of London.

In recent years, extensive restoration efforts have been made to preserve St. Paul’s Cathedral’s architectural integrity and ensure its continued splendour for future generations. Today, it stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the city and its people.

Conclusion

St. Paul’s Cathedral stands as a testament to London’s enduring spirit and its people’s ingenuity. From its humble beginnings as a small church to its status as one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the cathedral has witnessed centuries of change and upheaval, yet it remains a symbol of hope, faith, and resilience.

For visitors to London, visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral is an opportunity to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history and heritage, marvel at its architecture’s beauty, and experience the power of spiritual contemplation in a truly awe-inspiring setting. As London continues to evolve and grow, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a timeless reminder of the city’s enduring legacy and boundless potential for the future.

Also check out some other places you should visit in London such as Royal Mews, Churchill War Rooms, Houses of Parliament, Albert Memorial, The National Gallery, Tate Modern.

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