A St. Paul’s Cathedral tour is a must when you’re in London! The cathedral is absolutely stunning, and if you’re brave enough to climb up to the roof, you can get some pretty incredible views of London (even if it’s a dreary day). So if you’re planning a trip to London, check out these photos and tips before you visit the cathedral.
Planning your St. Paul’s Cathedral tour
St. Paul’s Cathedral is open for sightseeing Monday-Saturday 12 pm-4 pm, and you can check their website for the updated seasonal hours. You can also go to church services, which I recommend doing if you get the chance! For tours, admission is £20 for adults at the door or £17 if you reserve your spot online. There are guided tours, or there are multimedia guides for tours on your own.
History of St. Paul’s Cathedral
The origins of St. Paul’s Cathedral is a little debated, but it could possibly date all the way back to the 600s! There were a series of churches built over the centuries, and the fourth cathedral, referred to as Old St. Paul’s, started being built in 1087 after the previous one burned down. Another fire halted construction, so it wasn’t finished and consecrated until 1240.
The cathedral started to fall apart and be torn apart in the 16th century during the time of the Reformation. It was very damaged during the Great Fire of London of 1666, so they decided to rebuild it in a more modern style. Sir Christopher Wren designed the new cathedral, and it was consecrated in 1697. Sir Christopher Wren added a crypt underneath the entire cathedral for structural security, and since it’s uncommon to have crypts the entire length of a church, it’s actually the largest crypt in Europe.
There was some damage during WWII that was repaired, and there was an extensive restoration project that was finished in 2011.
The dome and ceiling weren’t decorated when Sir Christopher Wren was finished building the cathedral, so most of it was added on later. Sir James Thornhill was commissioned in the 1700s to paint the monochrome paintings of the life of St. Paul on the dome, and mosaic artwork was added throughout the cathedral in the 1800s.
St. Paul’s Cathedral tour
During the tour of the cathedral, you can tour the entire floor, and I recommend taking your time because there are so many details to look at! Once you’re done touring the cathedral, you can actually climb to the top for some pretty awesome views of London.
You can stop about halfway up for some great views, or you can keep climbing to the very top! A lot of the climb are narrow stairs like the photo above, so be warned that it isn’t a very easy climb. I went on a day that was very cloudy and grey so not many people climbed to the top, but I can imagine that these stairs get pretty crowded when the weather is nicer.
But if you’re up for a challenge, the views from the top of the cathedral are worth it, even on a cloudy day!
So that’s a glimpse of what you can see and learn about during a tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral! If you’re visiting London, I definitely recommend visiting the cathedral. It’s one of the most incredible cathedrals I’ve seen!