St. Paul’s Cathedral (entrance) The dome with a cross The cathedral from above
· Is St. Paul’s a Protestant or Orthodox church?
· Where is it situated?
· When was it erected?
· Who was the architect of St. Paul’s?
· What is this cathedral famous for?
· When does Big Tom toll?
· What renowned people are buried there?
· What does Wren’s tomb look like?
· Why is this Cathedral so dear and important to all the Englishmen?
St. Paul’s Cathedral is the largest Protestant Church in England, the seat of the Bishop of London. It is situated in the heart of the City of London. St. Paul’s is the greatest masterpiece of the famous English architect Sir Christopher Wren. It was begun in 1675 after a Norman church, old St. Paul’s, destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It was opened in 1697 but the last stone was laid in 1710, when Wren was almost eighty years old.
Christopher Wren was a mathematician, an astronomer and, above all, an inventor. He invented new ways of using traditional English building materials, brick and ordinary roofing tiles, to keep within the limits of classical design.
St. Paul’s is considered by many to be the most beautiful Renaissance building in Britain and one of the most gorgeous in the world. Prince of Wales Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married there in 1981. It was “the fairy-tale wedding of the century”.
The huge Dome of St. Paul’s is made of two domes, Outer and Inner, one inside the other. The Outer dome is crowned with a golden ball and a cross which is 365 feet (109.5 m) above the pavement and can be seen on a fine day from almost spot in the City of London.
The Inner dome is decorated with paintings by Sir James Thornhill depicting the life of St. Paul. The magnificent interior of the Cathedral contains many paintings, sculptures, monuments and works of art.
Visitors are strongly recommended to climb 263 steps to the balcony known as the Whispering Gallery in order to experience the acoustic phenomenon from which it gets its name. If someone whispers close to the wall on one side, a person with his ear close to the wall on the other side can hear what is said. But if you want to reach the foot of the ball, you have to climb 637 steps.
Big Paul is in the northern bell tower at the front of St. Paul’s. It is the heaviest bell in the country. Big Paul rings every weekday at 1 p.m. to let people know that it is lunchtime.
Another bell, Big Tom, tolls when a monarch or important churchmen die.
The church bells in the other tower are rung on Sundays and to celebrate great occasions.
Besides, St. Paul’s is the final resting place of many renowned soldiers, sailors and painters. The tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Joshua Reynolds are there in the crypt. Also in the crypt there is a display of Cathedral treasures, including priest’s robes.
As for Sir Christopher Wren, who is known as “the architect of London”, found his fame only after his death. He was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral. His epitaph translated from Latin reads, ”If you seek his monument, look around you”.
St. Paul’s is a lasting monument to the glory of God and a symbol of hope and strength of the city and the United Kingdom. It embodies the spiritual life and heritage of the British people.