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St. Paul's Cathedral
Saint Paul's Cathedral is a masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren and one of the finest church designs of the English baroque. It stands at the head of Ludgate Hill. St Paul's is the second largest church building in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral. It is a busy working church, with hourly prayer and daily services.
The History The first cathedral was built by the Saxons in wood. It burned down in 675 and was rebuilt, again in wood, ten years later. After this version was sacked by the Vikings in 962, the "second" St Paul's built, this time mainly in stone. The third St Paul's (known as Old St Paul's), was begun by the Normans aftered the late Saxon cathedral suffered in a fire of 1087. Work took over two hundred years, and a great deal was lost in a fire in 1136. "Old St Paul's" was ruined in the Great Fire of London of 1666. A decision was taken to build a new cathedral in a modern style instead.
Work on the present cathedral commenced in 1675, and was completed on October 20, 1708, the 76th birthday of its architect, Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). It is built of Portland stone in a late Renaissance to Baroque style.
Like most Christian churches, St. Paul's Cathedral is laid out in the shape of a cross
The West Porch is the main entrance to St. Paul's. A large stairway leads up to six sets of double columns and the Great West Door. The towers were not part of architect Christopher Wren's original plan. He added them in 1707, when he was 75 years old. Both were designed to have clocks, but now only the tower on the south (right) side has one. Big Paul, the heaviest bell in the country, is in the northern bell tower at the front of Saint Paul’s. It rings every weekday at 1 p.m. to let people know that it is lunchtime. Another bell Big Tom, tolls when a monarch or important churchmen die. The church bells in the other tower are rung on Sundays and to celebrate great occasions
From far away you can see the huge dome with a golden ball and cross on the top. Its impressive dome rises 108 metres (365 feet to the cross at its summit, i.e., one foot for each day of the year), makes it a famous London landmark.
The inside of the cathedral is very beautiful.
Organ The organ was commissioned from Bernard Smith in 1694. The current instrument is the third-largest in Great Britain in terms of number of pipes (7,266), with 5 manuals, 189 ranks of pipes and 108 stops, enclosed in an impressive case designed in Wren's workshop and decorated by Grinling Gibbons.[
Whispering Gallery The dome contains three circular galleries - the internal Whispering Gallery, the external Stone Gallery and the external Golden Gallery. The Whispering Gallery is called so because if someone whispers close to the wall on one side, a person with an ear close to the wall on the other side can hear what is said.
Climb the 259 steps to try out the Whispering Gallery and enjoy the view from the Stone Gallery.
The Golden Gallery is at the highest point of the dome, under the lantern. But not only can you climb up, you can also go down underneath the cathedral, into the crypt. Here are buried many great men, including Christopher Wren himself, Nelson and others.
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