The splendid St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is recognised as one of the most magnificent churches on the globe. This majestic edifice is ranked amongst the largest cathedrals in the entirety of Europe and its enormous dome is exceeded in size only by the dome of Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica.
St. Paul’s Cathedral inherits an eventful and turbulent history. No less than five churches have been constructed at different periods in time on the location where the present shrine stands. The initial church, a wooden edifice also dedicated to St. Paul, is thought to have been constructed in 604 AD by King Ethelbert. In the final years of the 7th century, the church was rebuilt in stone by the Bishop of London, Erkenwald. Disastrous fires in 962 and 1087 destroyed the cathedral, but in each instance it was comprehensively rebuilt and refurbished. Finally the Great Fire of 1666, totally reduced the existing church to ashes. It was distinguished architect Christopher Wren who was entrusted with the task of designing a magnificent architectural masterpiece that would stand the test of time. This resplendent creation was built between 1675 and 1711.
Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the cathedral that stands today is its magnificent dome, which stands at a lofty 111 m tall and weighs no less than 66,000 tons. The dome is supported by eight sturdy arches and is surmounted by a splendid lantern. You will encounter three galleries within the dome, namely the Stone Gallery, Whispering Gallery and the Golden Gallery; the latter provides sensational views over the British capital.
The shrine’s ornate Baroque style interior is another captivating aspect of this famed place of worship. Interestingly, the elaborate mosaics on the church ceiling were a later addition, dating to 1890. A number of eminent individuals are entombed in the crypt of the cathedral. Many noteworthy ceremonies have been conducted at the site, including the funerals of well-known citizens and marriages of royalty. St. Paul’s Cathedral is truly an icon of London.
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Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and hopes to visit them all someday.