St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, United Kingdom

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a Grade 1 listed building Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604 The present church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren Its construction, completed in Wren’s lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme in the City after the Great Fire of London

The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, dominated the skyline for 300 years At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967 The dome is among the highest in the world St Paul’s is the second-largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral occupies a significant place in the national identity It is the central subject of much promotional material, as well as of images of the dome surrounded by the smoke and fire of the Blitz Services held at St Paul’s have included the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher; jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer; the launch of the Festival of Britain; and the thanksgiving services for the Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees and the 80th and 90th birthdays of Elizabeth II

St Paul’s Cathedral is a working church with hourly prayer and daily services

St Paul’s Cathedral is the Anglican cathedral for London, a religious centre and an architectural gem It is here, beneath the magnificent dome designed by Christopher Wren, that people and events of special importance to the country are celebrated, mourned and commemorated There has been a place of Christian worship on the site since 604 AD The present St Paul’s was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in a fire It is the fifth cathedral to stand on the hill that dominates the ancient City of London

Over the centuries the cathedral has changed to reflect shifting tastes and attitudes People; ideas; oratory; music and faith have made St Paul’s an extraordinary place for over one thousand four hundred years Decoration has been added and removed, services have been updated, different areas have been put to new usesThroughout, it has remained a busy working church, where millions of people from around the world have worshiped and visited

St Paul’s Cathedral is built in a restrained Baroque style which represents Wren’s rationalisation of the traditions of English medieval cathedrals with the inspiration of Palladio, the classical style of Inigo Jones, the baroque style of 17th century Rome, and the buildings by Mansart and others that he had seen in France It is particularly in its plan that St Paul’s reveals medieval influences Like the great medieval cathedrals of York and Winchester, St Paul’s is comparatively long for its width, and has strongly projecting transepts It has much emphasis on its facade, which has been designed to define rather than conceal the form of the building behind it In plan, the towers jut beyond the width of the aisles as they do at Wells Cathedral Wren’s uncle Matthew Wren was the Bishop of Ely, and through having worked for his uncle Wren was familiar with the unique octagonal lantern tower over the crossing of the Cathedral in Ely which spans the aisles as well as the central nave, unlike the central towers and domes of most churches Wren adapted this characteristic in designing the dome of St Paul’s In section St Paul’s also maintains a medieval form, having the aisles much lower than the nave, and a defined clerestory

The most notable exterior feature is the dome, which rises 365 feet (111 m) to the cross at its summit, and dominates views of the City The height of 365 feet is explained by Wren’s interest in astronomy Until the late 20th century St Paul’s was the tallest building on the City skyline, designed to be seen surrounded by the delicate spires of Wren’s other city churches The dome is described by Sir Banister Fletcher as “probably the finest in Europe”, by Helen Gardner as “majestic”, and by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as “one of the most perfect in the world” Sir John Summerson said that Englishmen and “even some foreigners” consider it to be without equal