London is a great city with plenty to offer but without a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London experience isn’t an experience after all. Situated atop Ludgate Hill in Canterbury province in the City of London, this place is a magnificent spectacle for those who are intrigued by the tiniest of architectural details or are plain fascinated by sites dripping of ancient history.
Sir Christopher Wren was a well-known and a brilliant architect who orchestrated this piece of ‘art’, which forces even the most disinterested of travelers to submit to its arresting charms. There are a number of activities that can be undertaken in the church which are not even remotely restricted to attending just Mattins. An amusing way to explore the many wonders of the cathedral is by climbing the steps to the Whispering Gallery. A whisper escaping one’s mouth can clearly be heard even at a distance of 100 feet, thus giving the gallery its existing name. The Stone and the Golden galleries present tourists with a breath-taking view of London, including the River Thames, Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. For those who take pleasure in admiring a brush stroke or two, there is nothing more rewarding than looking up towards the ceiling and discovering grisaille murals illustrating instances of St. Paul’s life. These monochromatic paintings which were the creation of Sir James Thornhill, took four years (1715-1719) for their completion.
As morbid as it may sound, but one shouldn’t miss out on exploring the Crypt. It houses the tombs of the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir John Everett Millais, Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Arthur Sullivan and Henry Moore. Tourists can journey through the cathedral on their own with the help of multimedia guides provided inside the church. Travellers who are either technologically-challenged or trust a more ‘conventional’ medium of guided tours can arrange for one.
There is also a surprise for the worshippers of Harry Potter movies which can only be discovered by those who take a guided tour. Talking about movies, visitors can also watch any of the four movies shown in Oculus, a 270” film exhibition. Whether one wants to take souvenirs back home or wish to try out the mouth-watering delicacies, the shop and restaurant in the cathedral are a perfect place to go to.
Disappointing as it may be, but visitors aren’t allowed to capture this place on either Video or still cameras. Coming in without the dreaded tool will save one from many-a-disapproving glares of the security guards. St. Paul’s Cathedral is not only a monument for those searching a divine purpose in their lives. It must also be visited by every individual who is driven by nothing but his wanderlust and pay obeisance to its grandeur and regal beauty.
The Cathedral provides plenty of facilities for the old and the disabled. Visually-challenged visitors can take advantage of Audio description guides and ‘A Touch and Feel’ guided tour. Wheelchair services and British Sign language tour can be availed by physically-challenged and hearing-impaired tourists. The cathedral also allows entries of guide dogs, Hearing dogs and Assistance dogs at all times. Those who have a heart condition or find difficulty in walking, can tour the cathedral through the film exhibition, Oculus, which provides virtual access to all galleries.
Tickets and Cost
It’s advisable to go in groups as tickets can be a bit expensive, costing around £14.50 for individual entry and £13.50 for a group of ten. There is also a provision for booking tickets online. Visitors can check out the cathedral’s website (www.stpauls.co.uk) in case of any queries or to book tickets online.
How to Reach
The cathedral can be reached by a number of means of transport such as cars, bikes, trains, buses, underground trains and coaches. It is, however, recommended to take full advantage of the public transport available. In order to reach this place by bus, avail the services of route no. 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100 and 242. Over-ground train Stations at London Bridge, Cannon Street and Blackfriars and Underground stations of St Paul's (Central Line), Mansion House (District Line) and Cannon Street (Circle Line) are situated a walking-distance away.