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On my parents’ first full day in London we headed off to St. Paul’s Cathedral where I was certain they would be able to enjoy a great view of the city and experience the grandeur and magnificence of one of London’s most beautiful and historic cathedrals/churches.
|View from the Stone Gallery @ St. Paul’s Cathedral|
Some would say that the best views are from the London Eye. I have been on the Eye twice (2005 & 2012) and both times the view was fantastic but if you want to enjoy a great view sans the glass on the Eye capsules and without the gigantic price tag, I cannot recommend more the climb (!) up to the Dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Your price of admission includes a visit & audio guide to the crypt, cathedral floor and dome galleries (3 in number). Adults pay £16.50 and Concessions pay £14.50 at the door and if you order your tickets ahead of time you can save ££!
From each of the Dome galleries, you can experience a 360 degree view of London in the open air. Check out the amazing view!
Just look at how small the people looked from our view in the Stone Gallery (53 meters high)!
A visit to the Cathedral and Dome demands one bring their camera because the view (the exterior of the cathedral alone!) is breathtaking and words will be hard put to do the place justice. Photos are not allowed in the Cathedral itself.
For those of you American readers, the Cathedral boasts several noteworthy connections to the Americas. It was the site of a 9/11 memorial service for those in the United Kingdom and has an American Memorial Chapel commemorating the +28,000 Americans who were killed in action during World War II en route or while stationed in the United Kingdom.
As for the climb — please be aware that the climb up (and down) to the galleries is not for the faint of heart. It is 376 steps up to the Stone Gallery, where my dad and I went, and a further 152 steps to the Golden Gallery, which I have never tried. I have a fear of heights and found the climb down nerve wracking going down the spiral staircase but o how worthy the view is of the terror (*grin*). The stairs are also shallow and not friendly on the knees so if you have sensitive knees you should consider your choice. Don’t want anyone getting hurt or having their climb/view ruined.
This was my fourth visit to the Cathedral and each time I see something new. One reason for my preferring St. Paul’s over Westminster Abbey is that the grandeur of the building points straight to God rather than man. Why not take a quiet moment on the padded cushion to reflect and/or prayer before the altar?
For history buffs, you might think of Westminster Abbey first with its Poets’ Corner and number of great Kings and Queens buried there. I would however suggest a further look at St. Paul’s which was designed by Britain’s most celebrated architect, Sir Christopher Wren, in between 1675 and 1710. It was also the site of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral and the late Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles, among many other momentous events. And the crypt houses the tombs of Sir Christopher Wren, Lord Wellington and Lord Nelson among many others.
We sure had a great time and cannot more highly recommend a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Bring the whole family — there is so much to experience from crypt to cathedral floor to dome. A small cafe is also on the premises for that refuelling bite and/or drink.
If you have any suggestions for great churches to visit and where to get a great view of London, please share!