The first time we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, it was closed. We did laps around the building and witnessed a man feeding squirrels from his shoulder with pecans, but didn’t make immediate plans to see it again.
We had a close friend come and stay with us for a few days, so we saw the perfect opportunity to make it back there and take the full tour. I should have looked up the time of when it closes to the public. We first arrived around 4:30p where there was a small queue to get in, but then it was closed for visitors due to Evensong at 5:00p. Luck was not with us.
So, third time was the charm going back first thing in the morning. No queue, no crowd, and open to the public.It was £16.50 for each individual go see all the levels of the church, which felt a bit steep to be honest. But it was worth it to see the gorgeous structure and get the accompanying audio tour included.
The ceilings were magnificent and done mostly with mosaics and broken glass pieces. Above the quire, there are three large domes that have different designs depicting the origins of the world.
St. Paul’s Cathedral has been rebuilt a few times throughout history. The site was first founded in 604 AD, but now what stands is the sixth version designed by Sir Christopher Wren who also designed the refurbished Hampton Court Palace for King William III. The massive fires that London has suffered through over the last thousand years have wreaked havoc on St. Paul’s, but what stands now was originally built in 1669 having been saved by Sir William Churchill during the WWII bombings.
After sitting in the main dome for several minutes, we made our way to the top climbing the 500+ stairs. The first floor is the Whispering Gallery. From this level, you should be able to hear someone whispering from the exact opposite side of the circle. But we had a difficult time testing this out. But it was still fun seeing the church from that angle, but off we went to the next level.
Climbing up to the Stone Gallery resulted in smaller and smaller staircases. It was rather claustrophobic, but the view was worth it. We could see the entire London skyline. But, it still wasn’t the highest point. So, off we went to the Golden Gallery, feeling each of the 526 steps along the way.
The space was extremely cramped and small, but we managed to trip around other tourists to get the full round before making our way down the many hundred steps. We made it all the way down and as we shook the dizzy out of our heads and shakes out of our legs, we headed down to the crypt which was pretty incredible.
There were not as many famous people interred in this crypt as there were in Westminster Abbey, but William Blake was there along with the famous Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley who defeated Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo.
We were blocked from seeing a couple of the rooms due to a baptism or wedding taking place at the same time, but it was still an experience to see everything. We dedicated almost three hours to this cathedral which was plenty to see the whole place.
We were not allowed to take photographs of the interior, so I’m sorry I don’t have better pictures of the space, but I guess that is to encourage people to come and see it for themselves. Situated near the Tower of London, Borough Market, Tate Modern, and Shakespeare’s Globe, it is very easy to plan a day with this cathedral in mind. However, I will say, if you have to choose between St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, I’d recommend Westminster. Jeff and I are still floored by that place and use it as the bar set against anything else we’ve seen in London.