The Geometric Stairs in St Paul’s Cathedral

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

The St Paul’s Cathedral Stairs or the Dean’s Stairways take visitors to the triforium in St Paul’s Cathedral. 

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built by William Kempster, this stair has fine metalwork by Jean Tijou. 

The staircase in the southwest bell tower comprises 528 stars, including 88 Portland stone steps, rising 50 feet. 

It has gained widespread recognition, featuring in guided tours of the cathedral, including triforium tours. 

Its fame has been further enhanced by its appearances in the 2004 Harry Potter film “The Prisoner of Azkaban” and Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film “Sherlock Holmes.” 

The staircase has served as the backdrop for art installations, notably Antony Gormley’s Flare II, which depicted a falling figure within a wire cloud.

Why Should You Visit St. Paul Cathedral London Stairs

St. Paul Cathedral London Stairs

Visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and ascending its stairs is an experience that blends historical, architectural, and cultural marvels into one. 

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the cathedral stands as an architectural gem. 

As you climb its stairs, you’re treated to a close-up view of its intricate craftsmanship, making you feel part of its storied history.

The journey up the stairs is not just a physical endeavor; it’s a visual and historical exploration. 

You’ll have access to various viewpoints, including the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery, and the Golden Gallery. 

Each offers a different perspective of the cathedral’s grandeur and sweeping views of London’s skyline.

This climb is more than just ascending steps; it’s a walk through history. 

St. Paul’s has been a backdrop for numerous significant events in British history, and climbing its stairs allows you to connect physically and emotionally with them. 

The stairways themselves are a visual treat, adorned with beautiful art and decorations, offering a glimpse into the cathedral’s artistic heritage.

For those seeking a physical challenge, the over 500 steps to the top are a rewarding journey, offering a unique way to experience the cathedral and get some exercise.

Photographers will find endless opportunities to capture the cathedral’s interior from various angles, each offering a unique snapshot of this iconic building.

Beyond the physical and visual appeal, the climb offers moments of reflection and peace, a welcome respite from the bustling city streets below. 

It’s an educational and enriching experience for all ages, providing insights into the cathedral’s architectural brilliance and its pivotal role in London’s culture.

What is the St. Paul’s Cathedral Harry Potter Connection?

St. Paul’s Cathedral Harry Potter

Warner Brothers selected St. Paul’s Cathedral, particularly its Geometric Staircase, to show pivotal scenes within Hogwarts School in Harry Potter. 

This historical setting lent an air of authenticity to the cinematic adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels. 

In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the staircase serves as the backdrop for a moment of tension between Hermione Granger and Professor Trelawney. 

Overwhelmed by her demanding class schedule and harsh critique, Hermione reaches her breaking point.

She expressed her frustration by pushing a crystal ball off the table before storming down the spiral staircase with Harry and Ron in tow. 

Similarly, in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the Geometric Staircase becomes the stage for another emotionally charged scene. 

Neville Longbottom, deeply affected by a lesson on unforgivable curses taught by the enigmatic Mad-Eye Moody, finds solace and support from his classmates. 

Recognizing Neville’s distress, Hermione boldly confronts Mad-Eye Moody about the impact of his teaching methods. 

This poignant exchange highlights the staircase’s significance as a gathering place for characters to navigate their emotions and confront challenges. 

The filmmakers made minor alterations to enhance the staircase’s resemblance to Hogwarts, such as adding extra steps and stained glass windows.

However, the underlying structure of St. Paul’s Cathedral remained unchanged. 

Thus, the Geometric Staircase served as a timeless backdrop for the magical world of Harry Potter.

Other things to do in St. Paul’s Cathedral

Apart from the beauty and Harry Potter stairs in St. Paul’s Cathedral, here are some other things you can do there:

Exploring St. Paul’s Cathedral

Exploring St. Paul’s Cathedral
Image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

Inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, visitors are greeted by stunning architecture and breathtaking sights. 

Upon entry, they encounter the chapels of St. Dunstan and St. Michael & St. George on either side. 

Moving towards the Nave, they are gripped in its decor adorned with statues, murals, lanterns, gravestones, and chandeliers. 

Noteworthy features include the Wellington Monument and the Dome Altar, with beautiful gold murals and the majestic Grand Organ.

Visitors reach the back and discover The Quire, the High Altar, and the American Memorial Chapel.

Climbing St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome

Climbing St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

An unmissable experience at St. Paul’s Cathedral is ascending the staircase to the top of the dome. 

Passing through the Stone Gallery and the Whispering Gallery (currently closed), visitors reach the Golden Gallery, 85 meters above ground level. 

From this vantage point, they enjoy beautiful views of London, including landmarks such as Westminster, the London Eye, and Tower Bridge. 

While climbing 528 steps is demanding, breakpoints offer moments to catch one’s breath.

Exploring The Golden Gallery

st. Paul’s Exploring The Golden Gallery
image : photos by Vecteezy

The Golden Gallery, situated atop the outer dome at 85 meters high, offers stunning panoramic views of London. 

Climbing the 528 steps rewards visitors with beautiful views of the cityscape.

Discovering The Stone Gallery

Above the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery stands 52 meters high and can be reached by climbing 376 steps. 

From here, visitors can admire impressive views of the surrounding area.

Experiencing The Whispering Gallery

Accessible via 257 steps from the cathedral floor, the Whispering Gallery is known for its unique acoustics.

It allows visitors to whisper across the gallery and be heard clearly by someone standing opposite as if they were right beside them.

Visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral Crypt

Completing the St. Paul’s Cathedral tour often includes visiting the crypt, where many notable figures are laid to rest. 

Among the tombs are Christopher Wren, Florence Nightingale, Lord Nelson, and the Duke of Wellington, alongside renowned poets, heroes, and scientists. 

The crypt also houses a charming chapel, offering visitors a serene space for reflection amid the atmospheric surroundings.

St. Paul’s Cathedral Café & Gift Shop

Adjacent to the crypt, visitors can enjoy a pick-me-up at the cathedral’s café.

It offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes, and sandwiches. 

The dimly lit ambiance adds to the unique atmosphere. 

Nearby, the gift shop provides an array of souvenirs, including guidebooks, postcards, key rings, and collector’s coins.

Visitors can take home a piece of their St. Paul’s Cathedral experience.

FAQs About the Stairs in St Paul’s Cathedral

1. How many stairs are there in St. Paul’s Cathedral?

St. Paul’s Cathedral has a total of 528 steps that visitors need to climb to explore all the galleries in its dome. 

Reaching the top offers a stunning view of London’s skyline despite the climb.

2. Can you climb to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral?

Yes, visitors can climb to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

It’s a challenging climb, with over 538 steps, some narrow and may shake your knees. 

But the effort is worth it for the breathtaking views.

3. How many steps are there in the Stone Gallery at St. Paul’s?

To reach the Stone Gallery at St. Paul’s Cathedral, visitors need to climb 376 steps. 

This gallery offers the first opportunity for beautiful pictures during the ascent.

4. How many steps are there in the Whispering Gallery?

The Whispering Gallery at St. Paul’s Cathedral requires climbing 259 steps to reach.

5. How long does it take to climb St. Paul’s Cathedral?

Climbing St. Paul’s Cathedral typically takes about 20 to 25 minutes, but the experience is well worth the effort.

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About the author

Harshitha’s heart lies where greeny mountains meet stretches of beach. She believes getting lost is the best way to explore