St Paul’s Cathedral
Here is the world’s second largest domed cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. It is a symbol of national pride, focus of London spirituality and a glorious architectural masterpiece.
It sits at the highest point of the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site (AD 604) – and the Romans prior to that. The present cathedral was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. It took over 30 years to build and was completed in 1720. It’s dome has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. At 365 feet it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967.
The cathedral was the place for the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. It held jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria and peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars. And the wedding of Charles and Diana, 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.
Be ready to be transported further back in time. See the place known as the ‘Grandmother of all Parliaments’. Home to the world’s oldest continually operating municipal democracy – since 1189! The City Of London elects the Lord Mayor. The building today dates from 1428 – and it is here that visiting heads of state visit to get down to business (after the Downing Street and Buckingham Palace visits). (Tip; enter the modern offices and ask the official to let you visit the ‘Great Hall’). It’s the best ticket in town – and free.
Now the crescendo… the Guildhall complex was built on the site of London’s Roman Amphitheatre! Not discovered until 1998, some of the remains of the Amphitheatre are displayed (in situ) in the basement of the Guildhall Art Gallery. The Amphitheatre was used for various public events such as gladiator games, entertaining soldiers and the public with animal fighting and public execution of criminals, as well as religious activities. Along with a ‘stylized immersion experience’ this is serious sight seeing. Chances are, you’ll be alone and again it’s free.