The cathedral of London
St. Paul's Cathedral in London
Christopher Wren's architectural baroque masterpiece stood alone during Nazi air raids, (virtually) untouched by the bombings and fires that ravaged the city.
Captured on newsreel footage, the image of the grand church's survival became a rallying point for Britain's pride and indomitable spirit during the darkest days of World War II.
(Truth be told, however, the pilots of the Blitz were very careful not to bomb St. Paul's, as its dome served as the perfect landmark for their bombing runs.)
This embodiment of stiff British upper lip continues into the crypt, where national heroes such as the Duke of Wellington (who trounced Napoleon at Waterloo) and Lord Nelson are buried, alongside architect Wren, painters Constable and Turner, and adventurer/hero T. E. Lawrence (also known as Lawrence of Arabia).
Less patriotic visitors will enjoy climbing the 365-foot-high dome that glitters with mosaics—or rather, they will enjoy the acoustic effects of the whispering gallery halfway up (murmur against the wall and someone 158 feet away on the opposite side can hear you) and the 360° panorama of London from the top (after 426 steps).
St. Paul's Churchyard, at the end of New Change Street
Tube: St. Paul's
- Planning your time: The admission price has reached a scandalous £10 ($20), so if you're going to bother I'd go ahead and pony up the extra £3 for a guided tour, lasting between 1.5 and 2 hours, that leave at 11:00, 11:30am, 1:30, and 2pm and get you into bits normally closed to the public. If you don't do the tour, merely eyeballing the church is a 20-minute deal; give yourself at least 45 more minutes to climb the dome. ( on London Itineraries.)
- Get in free: St. Paul's Cathedral is covered by the London Pass—which also gets you an audio guide at a reduced rate, and 10% off at the gift shop (if you spend at least £10)—as well as the Great British Heritage Pass.
- Take a tour of St. Paul's with our partners at Viator.com:
- St. Paul's Cathedral
- Masterpieces of a Genius: The Churches of Sir Christopher Wren
- Private Tour: London Walking Tour of St Paul's Cathedral
- Viator VIP: Exclusive-Access Tour to The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and The View from The Shard
- The Blitz - London During the War
- London Full-Day Sightseeing Tour
- London in One Day Sightseeing Tour
- Harrods Afternoon Tea and St Paul's Cathedral London Tour
- The Original London Sightseeing Tour: Hop-on Hop-off (no site entry)