St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Churchyard London EC4M 8AD

St Paul's is one of the capital’s major sights, and rightly so, because Sir Christopher Wren’s late 17th-century masterpiece, seat of the Bishop of London, is a fascinating building. It’s a symbol of the city (and indeed the City, as evidenced by the Occupy London protests here), and although it feels somehow wrong that churches should charge admission, it’s one of the best value sights around, as you could easily spend half a day here or more. In the nave there are glittering mosaics and elaborate stone carvings, the stained glass of the American Memorial Chapel behind the high altar, and the tomb of Wren himself in the crypt; check out the Latin inscription on the wall, which translates as ‘If you seek his monument, look around you’, which seems fair comment. There are guided tours which will get you into areas not otherwise accessible to visitors, for example the South Bell Tower, whose geometric staircase film fans will recognise from the movies Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Madness of King George. But even without taking a tour you can get to the cathedral’s most inspiring sections, namely the galleries of the building’s dome (no lift). Take a break at the Whispering Gallery (257 steps), stand with a friend on either side and speak softly to see if they can hear you as the sound travels around the curved wall; then carry on up to the Stone Gallery (376 steps) and you’ll get outside for some great views; finally there’s the Golden Gallery (530 steps in total), where you can go outside at the top of the dome for maybe the best view of London of them all.

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