St. Paul's Cathedral

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St. Paul's Cathedral

History

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.

Facilities

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.

Best time to visit

April to September is considered the best time to visit London. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be frequented during the rest of the year. Mornings are best suited to discover St. Paul’s Cathedral in all its glory as it gives tourists ample of time to truly get to ‘know’ the place without the unnecessary last-minute rushing.

Trivia

A number of events of historical significance took place in this cathedral. Some of them are as follows:

• Peace services after both World Wars.

• Remembrance and commemoration services for victims of September 11th, 2001.

• Launch of the Festival of Britain.

• Wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

• Services for 80th and 100th birthday of Queen Elizabeth.

• Funeral services of Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson and Duke of Wellington.

The Dome of this church is amongst the largest Cathedral Domes in the world along with the crypt which is considered to be largest in the Western Europe.

St. Paul’s cathedral is also the resting place of Sir Christopher Wren who was the architect of this place. His epitaph rightly reads: "If you seek his monument look around you".

It is an already established fact that the present church is the fifth and a fairly ‘new edition’ to the number of cathedrals dedicated to St. Paul on the same ground since 604 AD.

It took almost 35 years to build the current church, with the construction beginning in 1675 and lasting till 1710.

The 365-feet high Anglican Cathedral also wore the ‘badge of honor’ of being the tallest building of London from 1710 to 1962.

Timing

St. Paul’s Cathedral is open to visitors from Monday through Saturday between 8:30 A.M to 4.00 P.M. The galleries, however, are opened from 9.30 A.M till 4.15 P.M. The church doesn’t entertain tourists on Sundays, devoting the day entirely to prayer and worship.


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