Saint Paul’s is by far one of England’s most beautiful cathedrals – up there with York Minster and the incredible Lincoln Cathedral. However, Saint Paul’s has something the others don’t – well in fact it has many things – but in particular – the incredible view from the dome, which is exactly the right height to give one the feeling of immersion directly in the middle of the city. Additionally, the central location and 360 viewing platforms make it possible to see everything from the ghastly London Eye (fine, it’s cute at night) and the Shakespeare Globe Theatre to The Gherkin, Canary Wharf and The Shard piercing the heavens right across the river. The Cathedral itself is of course stunning, one of Wren’s many wonderful works of reconstruction and replacement in London.
When you’ve worked your way from the ground and up through the many galleries of the cathedral, including the enchanting Whisper Gallery, and burst through to the outside of the cathedral dome – you’ll have climbed a staggering 528 stone steps. From there on it’s just a case of walking around the dome and gasping in awe.
In the images below – it’s possble to see see the Millenium Bridge leading directly to the Tate Modern and on the right – the architecture along the River Thames including the oak-and-thatch replica of the original Globe Theatre – which shows open air Shakespeare plays throughout much of the year.
From Saint Paul’s Dome it’s possible to see London’s tallest skyscrapers as well as views south towards Canary Wharf and to Central London and the London Eye.
Surprisingly, the dome doesn’t get too full – undoubtedly because the cathedral hasn’t installed an elevator – thank God (or whomever), and so it’s perfectly possible to walk leisurely around the two tiers without too much trouble from ones fellow travellers! The stairwells are another problem entirely though as you must go through several tight passageways that are shared with the various galleries before reaching the top. The Shard looks incredible in the fading afternoon sun, as does the both the city and Canary Wharf, while the Thames looks it’s usual charming, though murky self.
In the images above – the city including Foster’s Gerkin on the left, one of the towers of the western entrance of Saint Paul’s in the middle and on the right – a gigantic poster of the Royal Family complete with the Queen waving to the north side of the Thames from her lofty position on the Sea Containers House. Just next to Blackfriars Bridge, no less. And just so you know how much we love Her Majesty in Blighty, I feel I should point out that the poster was a staggering 100 metres wide by 70 metres tall and weighed nearly two tonnes. You won’t see this anymore unfortunately though as it was to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee – The Queen’s 60 years as Monarch in 2012.
The worse part of viewing London from the top of Saint Paul’s though is that you can’t see the absolutely stunning building that you’re standing on. For that you’ll need to cross the river to The Shard or simply stand outside and admire it up close.
If you’re not quite sated then take a look at Henry Stuart’s ridiculous Gigapixel photograph taken at sunset from the top of the dome – for the full 360 degree effect.
Address: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, United Kingdom
Opening times: 08:30–16:00