St. Paul's Cathedral
Suz Pathmanathan

Did you know? 10 facts about St. Paul's Cathedral

Interior of St Paul's Cathedral
The splendor of St. Paul's

From state funerals to exciting art installations, St. Paul's Cathedral embraces tradition and innovation and remains a popular site for tourists. So, as one of the star attractions on The London Pass, here are a few facts about St. Paul's Cathedral to help you prepare for your visit.

St Paul's Cathedral is the fourth church to stand on the site

Dating all the way back to 604 AD, the land that St Paul's Cathedral stands upon has been consecrated ground for a very long time, with three different predecessors. The Great Fire of London in 1666 saw the Cathedral's previous iteration destroyed. Sir Christopher Wren, an architect instrumental in rebuilding the city, designed the version that exists today.

The dome is one of the largest in the world

Joining the likes of the Roman Pantheon, St Paul's Cathedral boasts one of the biggest domes in the world at 366 feet high. Scale hundreds of steps to the top and bask in the architecture. Spend some time in its famous Whispering Gallery - a walkway thirty meters up.

Due to the specific design of the cathedral's dome, sound carries incredibly well across the Whispering Gallery. Try it for yourself with a friend and see how quietly you can whisper to one another from the opposite sides.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. once gave a sermon at St Paul's Cathedral

In 1964, Martin Luther King was invited to speak by Canon John Collins. The congregation totalled over three thousand, all packed into the cathedral. Aside from being an activist, Martin Luther King was also a Baptist minister, and he spoke about three different approaches to life in a sermon now known as The Three Dimensions to a Complete Life.

St Paul's art collection spans different art periods, all the way up to the present day

Besides being a work of art in itself, St Paul's is home to many gorgeous pieces ranging different time periods. Henry Moore's Madonna and Child sculpture and the Victorian mosaics trailing the walls are accompanied by modern works such as Gerry Judah's thought-provoking white crosses and Ian Hamilton Finlay's neon piece L'étoile dans son étable de lumiere.

Sir Christopher Wren, the Cathedral's architect, was the first to be buried in its tombs

Interred in 1723, the prolific British architect was laid to rest in his own masterpiece. He was the first of numerous key figures to have the honour. The epitaph inscribed on his crypt reads: Lector, si monumentum requiris - which is Latin for 'If you seek his Monument, look around'.

Many famous  British figures are honored in the Cathedral

A burial, memorial or funeral in St. Paul's still remains the highest national honor. Many artists, writers, politicians, humanitarians and more have been granted this prestige. The list includes John Donne, Florence Nightingale, William Blake, and Sir Alexander Fleming, who all have celebratory monuments. Prime ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher have had funeral services held here. St Paul's naturally receives comparisons to Westminster Abbey in the burials area with both boasting famous historical names, though both attractions have their differences overall.

St. Paul's Cathedral has captured the imagination of artists and filmmakers worldwide

Depicted in artworks by famed artists such as Canaletto, Daubigny, Signac and Derain, St Paul's Cathedral has been a source of artistic inspiration since its construction. The Cathedral has also been featured in movies. Lawrence of Arabia, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sherlock Holmes and Thor: The Dark World show the monument in all its glory. There's no better proof that it's an instantly recognisable icon of British heritage.

Suffragettes planned to blow up the Bishop's throne in St Paul back in 1913

In an attempt to raise awareness for equal voting rights, suffragettes planted a battery-powered bomb underneath the bishop's throne. Luckily for the Cathedral, the faulty bomb failed to go off. But sadly for women, there was no female vote until 1918. Voting equality took even longer to push through, and was only introduced in 1928.

St Paul's Cathedral hosts rotating art installations

The likes of Yoko Ono, Rebecca Horn, Anthony Gormley and more have had their works featured in St Paul's Cathedral. You can explore an incredibly broad range of art and historical artifacts in the cathedral's collections.


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