Saint Paul's Cathedral, London, UK

71 votes
St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican  cathedral  on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the seat of the Bishop of London. The present building dates from the 17th century and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It is generally reckoned to be London's fifth St Paul's Cathedral, all having been built on the same site since 604 A.D. The cathedral is one of London's most famous and most recognizable sights. At 365 feet (111m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962, and its dome is also among the highest in the world, St Peter's Basilica in Rome being higher. The Monument to the Great Fire of London, also designed by Wren and the tallest doric column in the world, would fit inside the cathedral's interior.

The cathedral is built of Portland stone in a late Renaissance style that represents England's sober Baroque. Its impressive dome was inspired by St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It rises 365 feet (108 m) to the cross at its summit, making it a famous London landmark.  Wren achieved a pleasing appearance by building three domes: the tall outer dome is non-structural but impressive to view, the lower inner dome provides an artistically balanced interior, and between the two is a structural cone that supports the apex structure and the outer dome. Wren was said to have been hauled up to the rafters in a basket during the building of its later stages to inspect progress.

The nave has three small chapels in the two adjoining aisles – All Souls and St Dunstan's in the north aisle and the Chapel of the Order of St Michael and St George in the south aisle. The main space of the cathedral is centred under the inner dome, which rises 108.4 metres from the cathedral floor and holds three circular galleries – the internal Whispering Gallery, the external Stone Gallery, and the external Golden Gallery.

The Whispering Gallery runs around the interior of the dome 99 feet (30.2 m) above the cathedral floor. It is reached by 259 steps from ground level. It gets its name because, as with any dome, a whisper against its wall at any point is audible to a listener with an ear held to the wall at any other point around the gallery. A low murmur is equally audible.

The base of the inner dome is 173 feet (53.4 m) above the floor. Its top is about 65 m above the floor, making this the greatest height of the enclosed space. The cathedral is some 574 feet (175 m) in length (including the portico of the Great West Door), of which 223 feet (68 m) is the nave and 167 feet (51 m) is the choir. The width of the nave is 121 feet (37 m) and across the transepts is 246 feet (75 m). The cathedral is thus slightly shorter but somewhat wider than Old St Paul's.

The quire extends to the east of the dome and holds the stalls for the clergy and the choir and the organ. To the north and south of the dome are the transepts, here called the North Choir and the South Choir.

Details of the towers at the west end (illustration, left) and their dark voids are boldly scaled, in order to read well from the street below and from a distance, for the towers have always stood out in the urban skyline. They are composed of two complementary elements, a central cylinder rising through the tiers in a series of stacked drums, and paired Corinthian columns at the corners, with buttresses above them, which serve to unify the drum shape with the square block plinth containing the clock. The main entablature breaks forward over the paired columns to express both elements, tying them together in a single horizontal band. The cap, like a bell-shaped miniature dome, supports a gilded finial, a pine cone supported on four scrolling angled brackets, the topmost expression of the consistent theme.

The north-west tower contains 13 bells hung for change ringing while the south-west contains four, including Great Paul, at 16½ tons - the largest bell in the British Isles, cast in 1881, and Great Tom (the hour bell), recast twice, the last time by Richard Phelps, after being moved from St. Stephen's Chapel at the Palace of Westminster. The bell is only rung on occasions of a death in the royal family, the Bishop of London, or London's mayor, although an exception was made at the death of US President James Garfield. In 1717, Richard Phelps cast two more bells that were added as "quarter jacks". Still in use today, the first weighs 13 long hundredweights (1,500 lb; 660 kg), is 41 inches (1,000 mm) in diameter and is tuned to A flat; the second weighs 35 long hundredweights (3,900 lb; 1,800 kg) and is 58 inches (1,500 mm) in diameter and is tuned to E flat.
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Latitude: 51° 30' 49" N, Longitude: -0° 6' 0" E see »

Localisation: City of London, United Kingdom

Type: Country:
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