Why is St. Paul’s Cathedral Famous? – Everything You Need to Know

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

St. Paul’s Cathedral is renowned for its architecture, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the Neoclassical English Baroque style.

It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666, which destroyed much of London.

Perched on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in London, St. Paul’s Cathedral has stood majestically for over 1,400 years. 

Its most notable feature is the massive dome, clad in lead, ranking it among the world’s largest and tallest domes.

For those eager to see London from above, climbing 1,161 steps to the dome’s summit offers an unparalleled view.

The effort is rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree vistas of the city and the River Thames.

This article will discuss the history, attractions, and fascinating facts about St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Why Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral

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

St. Paul’s Cathedral entices visitors with its exceptional architecture, historical importance, and cultural appeal.

Every aspect of the cathedral exudes timeless elegance, from the grand West Front’s detailed sculptures to the iconic dome.

Inside, you can marvel at the vibrant mosaics, elaborate carvings, and sculptures showcasing centuries of artistic excellence.

Climb the dome for spectacular panoramic views of London’s skyline.

Experience the unique acoustics in the Whispering Gallery and delve into the cathedral’s rich history, from its rebuilding after the Great Fire to its status as a cultural symbol featured in literature and film.

Visitors can also spot locations used in the world-renowned Harry Potter series.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is a must-see for anyone visiting London, offering spiritual solace, cultural enrichment, or a moment of quiet reflection.

History of St. Paul’s Cathedral

History
Image: Wikipedia.org

St. Paul’s Cathedral, an iconic feature of the London skyline, boasts a rich history that dates back to AD 604. 

The current structure, the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, was completed in 1710 after the previous cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. 

This magnificent example of English Baroque architecture was part of a major rebuilding program in the city. 

Over the centuries, St. Paul’s has played a pivotal role in London’s religious and cultural life, hosting numerous significant events.

This includes the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II. 

It stands not only as a place of worship but also as a symbol of resilience and rebirth in the heart of London.

If you are interested in digging more into the story of St Paul’s Cathedral, we recommend you read the detailed history.

Interesting facts about St. Paul’s Cathedral

Interesting facts about St. Paul’s Cathedral
Image: Stpauls.co.uk
  • The Cathedral’s architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was the first person buried there.

  • St. Paul’s is the fourth church to stand on the site.

  • The land where the Cathedral sits has been holy ground since about 600 AD.

  • Over the centuries, there have been several buildings on this site, with the previous one destroyed by the Great Fire of London.

  • The Cathedral’s dome is the second largest in the world.

  • St. Paul’s Cathedral boasts one of the world’s largest domes, standing at 366 feet high.

  • Only St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome surpasses it in size.

  • St. Paul’s Cathedral houses a vast collection of artwork from different historical periods, including Henry Moore’s Madonna and Child sculpture.

  • The Cathedral frequently hosts rotating art installations, including works by Yoko Ono and Swarovski.

  • Having a funeral or being buried at St. Paul’s Cathedral is among the highest national honors.

  • Many famous figures, such as Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, and Alexander Fleming, have been honored there.

  • The Cathedral’s crypt extends the entire building and contains over 200 monuments.  

  • During the suffragette movement, activists attempted to blow up the Bishop’s throne in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

  • In 1964, Martin Luther King delivered a sermon to over three thousand people at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

  • St. Paul’s Cathedral features a Whispering gallery designed to carry sounds exceptionally well.

  • Until 1962, St Paul’s Cathedral was London’s tallest building.

  • It remains one of the largest churches globally and sits atop the city’s highest point.

Recommending Reading: 15 Facts About St Paul’s Cathedral You Might Not Know

Things to See in St. Paul’s Cathedral

Here are some of the things to see in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London:

The West Front

West Front
Image: Britannica.com

The West Front of St. Paul’s Cathedral has a 30-foot-high Great West Door.

It is the primary entrance, which is reserved for special occasions. 

Its grandeur includes a columned portico topped by an upper colonnade and a pediment adorned with a bas-relief sculpture named the Conversion of St. Paul.

Above the pediment, Saint Paul, Saint James, and Saint Peter statues are prominently displayed.

There are two imposing bell towers on either side of the entrance.

The Interior

Interior
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

Designed to ensure unobstructed views of the altar and pulpit, the cathedral’s interior gets natural light from 24 large windows. 

The choir vaults accommodate stalls for clergy, cathedral officers, and the choir and organ. 

Despite damage from the Blitz, the region near the high altar was reconstructed.

This includes adding stained glass to a small chapel dedicated to American WW2 servicemen.

The Apse

Apse
image : AI Stock photos by Vecteezy

The Apse houses the revered High Altar in the eastern part of the main floor. 

Established in 1958 as the American Memorial Chapel, it pays homage to over 28,000 Americans who perished in WW2. 

The Roll of Honour, bearing their names, is prominently displayed before the chapel’s altar.

The High Altar

High Altar
image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

Made from a mammoth slab of Italian marble based on Sir Christopher Wren’s original sketches, the High Altar is a memorial for WW2 casualties. 

Crowned by a ten-foot-tall cross adorned with stone and silver, it is sheltered by a vast oak canopy installed in 1958.

Interior Artwork

Interior Artwork
image :Stock photos by Vecteezy

St. Paul’s Cathedral is a treasure trove of art featuring vibrant mosaics and intricate carvings. 

Notable works include the esteemed Quire mosaics, crafted between 1891 and 1904.

Visitors admire Grinling Gibbons’s carvings and Sir James Thornhill’s murals.

The South Churchyard

Surrounding St. Paul’s Cathedral lies the St. Paul’s Churchyard, which underwent a redesign in 2008. 

At its western end, visitors encounter a floor plan depicting the former Old St Paul’s Cathedral, destroyed in the Great Fire.

St Paul’s Cross

St Paul's Cross
Image: Wikipedia.org

Located in the northeast Churchyard, St. Paul’s Cross is marked by a plaque commemorating its historical significance. 

Once an open-air pulpit where pivotal religious and political proclamations were made, it features a column crowned by a gilded statue of St. Paul.

Is St. Paul’s Cathedral Worth a Visit?

Yes, St. Paul’s Cathedral is undoubtedly worth a visit for various reasons. 

It’s not only an architectural masterpiece, with its stunning English Baroque design by Sir Christopher Wren, but also a place steeped in history and cultural significance.

Visitors can marvel at its magnificent dome—one of the largest in the world.

You can also explore its beautiful interior, including the Whispering Gallery, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of London from its top. 

The cathedral has witnessed many pivotal events in British history and is a final resting place for famous Britons, making it a fascinating site for history enthusiasts.

Its art, monuments, and regular choral performances also contribute to its allure as a cultural and spiritual landmark. 

Whether you’re interested in architecture, history or art or wish to experience London’s most iconic sights, St. Paul’s Cathedral offers a rich and rewarding experience.

If you are planning to visit St Paul’s Cathedral, also read about 

Featured Image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

Harshita
About the author

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