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St Paul's Cathedral facts and history

St Paul's Cathedral facts and history

A masterpiece marked by its history

When was Saint Paul's Cathedral built?

The construction of St Paul's Cathedral began in 1675 in the City of London and was completed in 1710. Built of wood and then stone, the cathedral had a turbulent history.

The first building dates back to 604. At that time, the wooden cathedral fell prey to a first fire, less than a century later.

Shortly afterwards, the building was rebuilt a second time in 685, this time in stone. However, the Vikings attacked it 300 years later.

As the third reconstruction took place in 962, again in stone, history repeated itself. The capital faced a fire, which also engulfed the cathedral in flames.

In 1300, St. Paul's Cathedral was renovated. After reconstruction and extension, it became the third longest church in Europe. It is 178 metres long, 30 metres wide and has a spire reaching 149 metres in height. This did not last: the spire collapsed in 1561 due to a thunderbolt.

The situation seemed to stabilise for the cathedral, and renovations even began in 1630. However, during the English Revolution in 1642, the interior of the building was destroyed to be used as a stable.

Unfortunately, the damage continued: the Great Fire of London in 1666 devastated the city, including the cathedral which also burned.

Who designed the plans for the cathedral?

Then, the restoration began again for the last time, from 1675 to 1710. The architecture was designed by Christopher Wren, in both classical and baroque styles, resulting in the cathedral we know today.

Despite everything, the cathedral almost collapsed again under German bombing during the Second World War. A bomb landed near the building but the damage was only superficial.

St. Paul's Cathedral, a witness to memorable events

Today, the cathedral is an extremely popular place. In fact, it is the most visited religious site in the UK, with around two million visits a year.

It has witnessed many great moments, such as the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and the burial of Admiral Horatio Nelson and Winston Churchill.

Did you know that the place has also been used as a film location for many successful movies? The 'Divination' Stairs appear in Hogwarts, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a scene is filmed inside the monument in Mission : Impossible - Fallout and another scene is filmed outside for the film Mary Poppins.

A spectacular architecture

How high is the dome of the cathedral?

This masterpiece is particularly noticeable for its impressive dome, which reaches a height of 110 metres. The interior of the dome reveals the paintings of Sir James Thornhill, where the 8 scenes from the life of St. Paul can be admired.

Its spectacular nave is 152 metres long and 36 metres wide.

How many tombs are there in the crypt of Saint Paul's Cathedral?

The building has the largest crypt in Europe, where 300 graves and memorials are kept, including those of Winston Churchill and Horatio Nelson, for example.

The first staircase leads to the Whispering Gallery, with a sublime view of the choir. Its acoustics are so good that even a whisper can be heard throughout the gallery, which explains its name.

Further up is the Stone Gallery, where you can look down on London from a height of 53 metres.

Finally, the last stairs lead to the Golden Gallery. There is a breathtaking view of the entire city, where you can see several buildings, including the Shard, Tower Bridge and the London Eye.

Can we visit St. Paul's Cathedral?

St Paul's Cathedral is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8.30am (9.30am for the dome) to 4.30pm. Sundays are dedicated to religious activities. Therefore, the dome is not accessible.

You can buy your tickets online: £20 for adults, £8.50 for children and £17.50 for seniors.

Audio guides are available during the visit, to explain the history of the monument step by step. Depending on your preferences, you can choose a short or detailed tour. Please note that no photos are allowed inside!

The most courageous among you can climb more than 300 steps to the top of the dome, to enjoy a breathtaking view of the capital. Remember to choose suitable shoes!

As for accessibility, don’t worry: the building is suitable for people with reduced mobility. There is an alternative entrance to the main floor and a lift to the crypt. However, the top of the dome is not accessible.

How do I get there?

The Cathedral is located in the City of London, more precisely in St. Paul's Churchyard, London EC4M, 8AD, UK. You can get off at stop 6 St Paul's Cathedral on our Yellow Original Route with our London Discovery or Must See London bus tour.


Tootbus also accompanies you in your journey with our Tootwalk. You can enjoy a wonderful 30 minute walk along the Thames with the Architecture and Celebration tour. You'll discover London's most iconic landmarks, such as the impressive London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral or Borough Market.