Thursday, June 3, 2010

St. Paul's Cathedral

A dominating and beautiful fixture of the London skyline, St. Paul's Cathedral has been a part of the city of London since 604 AD. The current cathedral is actually the fourth to be built, the first being wooden and was burnt to the ground in 675. Rebuilt 10 years later, it was then destroyed by the Vikings in 962. The current church was rebuilt by the design of Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710, over ten years after it burned yet again in the Great Fire of London.
Despite taking 28 direct bombs during the German "Blitz," the Cathedral survived the Second World War with minimal damage. Today the cathedral prepares for its 300th anniversary by completing a massive in-and-out restoration, due for completion this year. The Cathedral is jam-packed with incredible art, architecture, and history. Take a stroll through the crypt to see the tomb of Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren- just a few of the many historical figures laid to rest here. Prince Charles and the former Lady Di were married at St. Paul's. Be sure to climb the dome of the Cathedral and give the Whispering Gallery a try.

The Cathedral's library, called The Library of Dean and Chapter, was built as part of Wren's design. Little of the earlier cathedral's collection survived the Great Fire of London. Today, the collection contains approximately 21,500 volumes, including works of theology, church history, and patristics. Currently the library collects significant titles on the Church of England, Sir Christopher Wren, and the city. In addition to the Library, St. Paul's houses two other collections, The Architectural Archive and The Fabric Archive.

More on St. Paul's:
Other sites of interest in this area:
The Temple Bar Gate is the only surviving gate to London and has mention in texts dating back to 1293. As a boundary of the city, its original inception was probably no more than a chain between posts of wood. It would have been the place for all visitors of London to pass through (the Gate guidebook points out this would include all the great figures of English history) and also to display the heads and various body parts of traitors. The gate that stands today was designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
Temple Church was built by the Knights Templar as a Templar headquarters in Great Britain and is was consecrated in 1185.

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