Royal Wedding, Harry Potter, and Epic Views: What You Need To Know Before Visiting London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral
London is a city celebrated for its excellent museums, great theatre, and superb restaurants. But the English capital is also famous for its iconic and historical landmarks: Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, among many others. No matter your faith or lack thereof, St. Paul, is one religious buildings in London that visitors would be remiss to pass on. The cathedral’s recent and not-so-recent history, its architecture, and the art displayed inside, make it a must-see for any travelers to London.
- Where is St. Paul’s Cathedral?
- How to get to St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral, when, and why?
- What denomination is St. Paul’s Cathedral?
- Who got married at St. Paul’s Cathedral?
- Who is buried at St. Paul’s Cathedral?
- St. Paul’s Cathedral in numbers
- When does St. Paul’s Cathedral open and close?
- How much does it cost to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral?
- Can you climb to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral?
- Can you visit the library at St. Paul’s Cathedral?
- Where to stay in London to be near St. Paul’s Cathedral
Where is St. Paul’s Cathedral?
St. Paul’s Cathedral is located on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London. The City of London is one of 32 boroughs that make up London. Other boroughs include The City of Wesminster, Camden, Islington, etc.
How to get to St. Paul’s Cathedral
The easiest way to get to St. Paul’s Cathedral is by taking the subway (AKA “the tube”) or the train. The Central Line (depicted in red on subway maps) will get you straight to the station St. Paul’s which is a two-minute walk to the cathedral. The Thameslink train will get you to the City Thameslink station which is only a five-minute walk to the cathedral.
Who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral, when, and why?
This magnificent building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was built between 1675 and 1711 following the complete destruction of its then very deteriorated predecessor during the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Sir Christopher Wren was the most acclaimed architect of his time. He designed 53 London churches, including St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The site on which St. Paul’s Cathedral stands is believed to have been dedicated to spiritual worship since Roman times, but the first Christian cathedral at this location, also named St. Paul’s, was erected here in the early seventh century.
What denomination is St. Paul’s Cathedral?
St Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral. Anglicanism is a form of Christianity that falls under the umbrella of the Church of England.
Who got married at St. Paul’s Cathedral?
The most famous recent wedding to take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral was the union of now King Charles III (then Princes Charles) and the late Princess of Wales (then The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer) on July 29, 1981.
Only a small number of weddings take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral every year. Those who wish to get married at the cathedral need to obtain a special license and meet certain conditions. Those conditions are listed on the cathedral’s official website.
Who is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral?
The crypt of the cathedral is the final resting place of military heroes Admiral Lord Nelson (1805) and Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (1852); artist J. M. W. Turner (1851); architect Christopher Wren (1723); among many others.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in numbers
- St Paul’s Cathedral was completed in 1711, making it 312 years old in 2023.
- St Paul’s Cathedral is 365-foot tall. It was the tallest building in London until the 1960s. Today, it is the 79th tallest building in the city.
- The crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral is the largest in Europe and can accommodate up to 350 people
- There are more than a dozen bells at St. Paul Cathedral. The biggest of them is Great Paul which weighs 16.5 tons.
- There were 3,500 guests in St. Paul’s Cathedral for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981.
- The first ever cathedral built on this site was also dedicated to St. Paul and was built in 604 AD.
When does St. Paul’s Cathedral open and close?
For those who wish to worship, the first service of the day is at 7:30 AM (Morning Prayers) and the last service of the day is at 5 PM (Choral Evensong) from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, the first service is at 8:00 AM (Holy Communion) and the last service is at 5:30 PM (Eucharist). There are services throughout the day.
For those who want to sightsee, the cathedral is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM. On Wednesday, the cathedral is open from 10 AM to 4:30 PM.
How much does it cost to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral?
It is free to attend services at St. Paul’s cathedral and worshippers do not need tickets. Note that some special services and concerts are ticketed.
Those who want to sightsee must book a ticket online in advance. Adults pay $24.90 (£20.50); seniors and students pay $22.30 (£18.40); and children between the ages of 6 and 17 pay $10.90 (£9). Children under the age of six enter for free. People with disabilities and their necessary companion enter for free. Other discounts may apply; please check the website to see if you can benefit from them.
There are several free guided tours available for ticket holders.
Can you climb to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral?
Ticket holders can visit the cathedral floor, the crypt, and the dome galleries (the Stone and Golden Galleries). You’ll need to climb 371 steps to access the Stone Gallery which is located on the outside of the dome and provides amazing views of London. A further 122 steps take you to the Golden Gallery, a smaller outside gallery where the views of the city skyline are also exceptional. There are no elevators to access the dome galleries. The other two galleries, the Whispering Gallery (below the Stone Gallery) and the Ball and Lantern (at the very top of the dome), are not currently open to the public.
The staircase visitors use to access the Stone Gallery (known as the Geometric Staircase or the Dean’s Staircase) was used as the staircase to and from the Divination Tower at Hogwarts in the movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Can you visit the library at St. Paul’s Cathedral?
The beautiful 1709 library will reopen to visitors in the spring of 2023. It was closed since 2018 for extensive restoration work.
Where to stay in London to be near St. Paul’s Cathedral
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The Leonardo Royal is a four-star hotel located just steps away from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Prospective guests can request a room with a view on the cathedral and they are unlikely to be disappointed by what they get. The rooms at the Leonardo Royal are elegant, simple, and all fitted with designer toiletries. There is a beautiful indoor pool, as well as a fitness club with a fully equipped gym, personal trainers, and fitness classes. There is also a spa with a sauna, hot tub, and many treatments on offer. Breakfast is included and there is a restaurant and bar on site. The Leonardo Royal is just a five-minute walk from the St. Paul’s subway station.
Club Quarters Hotel
The Club Quarters Hotel is located next door to St. Paul’s Cathedral and close to the City Thameslink station. The City Thameslink connects this area of London to St. Pancras International train station, King’s Cross train station, Luton Airport, and Gatwick airport, making this four-star hotel a very convenient option for visitors. The hotel is modern, clean, and simple. There is a fitness center and breakfast is included.
COVE Cannon Street
Cove Cannon Street is an apartment hotel comprised of modern and immaculate units of varying sizes. All units have a kitchen, a dining/lounge area, and a private bathroom. The decor is contemporary with modern furniture and textiles, and fun and colorful artworks on the walls. There is a fitness center available to guests.