St Paul's Cathedral, view from bottom

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St Paul's Cathedral, view from bottom ( 640x480 )
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St Paul's Cathedral is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. It is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London, located in the City of London. It is one of the most visited sights in London.

The present cathedral building was built in the 17th century and it is the fifth London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. The very first church on this site was built of wood in 604. After it burnt down, it was replaced in 685 by the stone one. Vikings sacked it in 961 and a year later, the third cathedral was built. This one burnt down as well, in 1087. To build the forth cathedral took 200 years. It was the third longest church in Europe and had one of Europe’s tallest spires. During the Great Fire of London in 1666 it was gutted and instead of its reconstruction a new cathedral was planned to be built.

The designer of the new cathedral became Sir Christopher Wren. The works began in 1677 and it was completed in 1708, on 20 October. However, the first sermon was held on 2 December 1697. The St Paul’s Cathedral survived the bombing during the World War Second.

The cathedral is built in a late Renaissance style (England’s sober Baroque). The dome in the middle, 108 metres high, was inspired by St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It holds three circular galleries – the internal Whispering Gallery, the external Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery. The Whispering Gallery runs around the interior of the Dome. It is reached by 259 steps. It gets its name because a whisper against its wall at any point is audible to a listener with their ear held to the wall at any other point around the gallery. The nave of the cathedral has three small chapels in the two adjoining aisles – All Souls and St Dunstan's in the north aisle and the Chapel of the Order of St Michael and St George in the south aisle. The Apse of the cathedral is home to the American Memorial Chapel. It honours American servicemen and women who died in World War II. There are two towers on the west side of the cathedral. The north-west tower contains 13 bells and the south-west contains four, including Great Paul, cast in 1881, and Great Tom (the hour bell).

The cathedral has a very substantial crypt, holding over 200 memorials, and serves as both the Order of the British Empire Chapel and the Treasury. Unfortunately, most of the treasures have been lost or robbed. There are lot of plaques, carvings, statues, memorials and tombs of famous British figures like Sir Christopher Wren, John Donne, The Duke of Wellington, Lord Nelson, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Arthur Sullivan and others.

The cathedral is open to the public, with a charge for non-worshipping visitors.
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