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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral - The icon of London

I have visited London many times, but the first time I stepped inside (or even set eyes on) St Paul's Cathedral was not until July 2014. For some reason I have always overlooked this marvel, and I can't think why! This immense cathedral was constructed during the 1700's and has remained one of London's (And England's) icons throughout the years, and is famous for surviving the devastation of the Blitz during WWII relatively unscathed.

"Wreathed in billowing smoke, amidst the chaos and destruction of war, the pale dome stands proud and glorious – indomitable" – Lisa Jardine

I felt extremely proud to step inside St Paul's and was stunned by the beauty, detail and décor of its interior – For anyone visiting our capital, a trip to St Paul's cannot be missed – A building of this magnitude, surrounded by such rich history should be shared with everyone.

Kings Cross St Pancras underground Station Me and my brother standing outside the front of St Paul's The beautiful main dome of St Paul's Cathedral So much detail and decoration - Simply stunning!

How to get there

St Paul's is located in central London, pretty much smack bang in the middle, and a couple of minutes walk from the Thames. Geographically it is West of the O2 arena and Tower of London, and North East of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the London eye. The millennium bridge is directly opposite St Paul's (This bridge was blown up by Death Eaters in Harry Potter z0mg!!!), and is definitely worth a walk on - You can get some great shots of St Paul's from it.

Map showing the location of St Paul's

The closest underground station is St Paul's on the Central Line (Red), and then Blackfriars or Mansion House on the District Line (Green). As St Paul's Cathedral is not really close to any of the other major tourist stops, I would recommend using the underground - If you want to walk you are looking at 30 minutes minimum until you reach the next notable stop. The best option for underground transport is to buy an Oyster card - The card itself is £5 and then you top it up and use it for multiple journeys. A really useful mobile app I use to navigate the London Underground is "Tube Map" by mxData - You can enter start and finish destinations and it will calculate your route and tell you which stations and lines to use.

  • Official London transport site - Link
  • Info about the Oyster Card - Link
  • Tube Map app - Link

Inside the Cathedral

Entry fee to the Cathedral is £16.50 for adults (correct at the time of this article in July 2014) and tickets are purchased when you go inside of the left hand door of the front facade. The interior of the cathedral is spectacular, and I could have spent hours here just admiring the exquisite detail of every gold covered arch, to every detailed ceiling mosaic. Every inch of the building is detailed and looks so decadent and regal.

Dotted around the cathedral are various memorials and statues dedicated to fallen heroes and important people in English history; walking through the aisles I saw legendary names appear like Wellington, Nelson and Scott - the sheer amount of history contained within the Cathedral is immense. I particularly liked the old battered regimental flags on display and the beautifully detailed roof of the Quire.

Important Note: As a rule photography is NOT ALLOWED inside the Cathedral, I did not obey this rule and took photographs - I couldn't pass up the opportunity. If you chose to take photos, be discreet, respect the establishment and don't overdo it.

Take your time to walk around the interior, enjoy the beautiful architecture, learn about the history of the building and the people immortalized here, sit in the nave and appreciate all you see, don't rush. I can sometimes get caught up in the excitement of sight-seeing, but in St Paul's I took my own advice and explored it thoroughly.

Interior of St Paul's - So much detail! War memorial for the Napoleonic wars Regimental flags Wellington memorial (Duke of Wellington Sir Arthur Wellesley The High Altar of St Paul's Amazing ceiling of the Quire

The Whispering Gallery & Dome walk

The Whispering gallery is up a series of spiral staircases and is basically a circular seating area situated around the inside of the dome of St Paul's (The staircase entrance is on the right hand side of cathedral from the main entrance, just before the open enclosure of the Dome) - Up here you get amazing views of the cathedral below, plus you can see the intricate detail of the dome artwork. Obviously you must be quiet in the whispering gallery and there are attendants there to keep the peace. The walk is fairly tiring but it is well worth the effort.

Pro Tip: Wear comfortable shoes if you are planning to climb to the top of the Dome - There are hundreds of steps and footwear like flip-flops will inevitable end in disaster!

You can also reach the outside from the Whispering gallery to witness panoramic views of London - There are several flights of stairs that lead to the outside walkway - This goes all the way round the outside of the dome. I spent quite some time out here looking at the London skyline and marveling at the new skyscrapers and buildings under construction. There is also a higher level right at the top of the dome - I was too knackered to see this, but if you are less lazy than me, I would advise giving it a go!

View from St Paul's across to the Cheesegrater building View from St Paul's across to the London Eye St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral from the Millennium bridge Artwork on the interior of the dome in the Whispering Gallery Looking down from the Whispering Gallery View from St Paul's across to the Millennium bridge Front facade of St Paul's showing detail of the pediment St Paul's in the distance with the Millennium bridge in the foreground

The Crypt

Underneath the main Cathedral floor is the crypt - This maze of memorials contains various tombs and graves of notable British people from Christopher Wren (The architect of St Paul's) to Lord Wellington. My favorite was the tomb of Lord Horatio Nelson (legendary genius English naval commander who died at the battle of Trafalgar), the black sarcophagus is really imposing while the chamber itself has a set of brilliant symmetrical arches. The restaurant, cafe and toilets are also downstairs on the same level as the crypt.

The tomb of Lord Horatio Nelson
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