ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL LONDON
Christopher Wren’s masterpiece is the fifth cathedral to occupy the site; the original was built in AD 604. Wren’s succeeded “Old St. Paul’s,” begun in 1087, whose steeple was just one-third higher than the current 111m dome. After three designs were rejected by the bishops, Wren, with Charles n’s support, just started building sneakily, he had persuaded the king to let him make “necessary alterations” as work progressed, and the building that emerged from the scaffolding in 1708 bore little resemblance to the model Charles II had approved.
With space to seat 2500 worshippers, the nave is festooned with monuments to great Britons; the tombs, including those of Nelson, Wellington, and Florence Nightingale, are all downstairs, in the crypt. Christopher Wren lies beneath the epitaph Lector, si monumentum requiris circumspice (“Reader, if you seek his monument, look around”). To see the inside of the second-tallest freestanding dome in Europe (after St. Peter’s in the Vatican), climb the 259 steps to the Whispering Gallery. From here, 119 more steps lead to Stone Gallery, on the outer base of the dome, and it’s another 152 to the summit’s Golden Gallery. Back inside, the mosaic of Christ Seated in Majesty overlooks the High Altar. (St. Paul’s Churchyard. 7246 8348; www.stpauis.co.uk. Tube: St. Paul’s. Open M-Sa 8:30am-4pm; open for worship daily 7:15am-6pm. £6, students and seniors £5, children £3. Worshippers free. Audio tours £3.50, students and seniors £3. lVshr. tours M-F 4 per day; £2.50, students £2.)