St Paul's Cathedral Dome

St Paul’s Cathedral Dome | A Gem in London’s Skyline

St Paul's Cathedral, praised as an ecclesiastical masterpiece, is the seat of the Bishop of London. It is one of London's most stunning sights due to its rich historical past and majestic design. The church has hosted major events ranging from art installations to state funerals and royal weddings. It also contains the world's largest dome, which stands at 366 feet in height.

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

What is St Paul’s Cathedral?

When crossing across the bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral is a London landmark, the city's highest point, and a Grade-I visual wonder that never gets old. In 1708, the world-famous English Baroque-style cathedral was inaugurated. The cathedral is a functioning church with daily services and hourly prayer. Although a Roman temple consecrated to Diana originally stood on the site, King Aethelberht I built the first Christian cathedral there in 604 CE, which was dedicated to St. Paul. In addition to being an impressive piece of art in and of itself, the cathedral is home to some of the most magnificent art items from various eras of time.

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

Who Built St Paul’s Cathedral?

After King Charles II took to the throne, he appointed Sir Christopher Wren as the Surveyor of King’s Works. He would provide suggestions on the repair of the cathedral. However, the Great Fire in 1666 destroyed many churches along with St Paul’s Cathedral. On July 30, 1669, Sir Christopher Wren was officially given the duty of designing a replacement construction. After the fire destroyed the tower, he had to replace it with something that was a bit more modern but just as magnificent as what stood in its place before. He decided to build a dome while utilizing the remnant structure as a scaffold. He drew a plan for the planned dome, indicating that it should span the nave and aisles at the crossing.

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

What is St Paul’s Cathedral Dome?

Wren was awestruck when he saw Michelangelo's dome at St Peter's Basilica and Mansart's Church of the Val-de-Grâce. Unlike those of St Peter's and Val-de-Grâce, the dome of St Paul's rises in two clearly defined stories of masonry, totaling around 95 feet when combined with a lower unadorned footing. The 3-dome structure allows the inner dome to rise proportionately to the architecture within while still appearing massive and magnificent from the outside. Wren generates variety and strength in the finished structure by putting recesses between the columns in every fourth opening. Both the inner dome and the brick cone that rise inside to support the lantern are buttressed by the peristyle.

The Design of St Paul’s Cathedral Dome

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

The Exterior of St Paul’s Cathedral Dome

The dome, which rises 365 feet to the cross at its pinnacle and dominates views of the city, is the most noteworthy exterior feature. The structure has two ashlar levels over a basement and is encircled by a railing above the upper cornice. In 1718, the balustrade was erected against Wren's wishes. Wren was also faced with the task of adding towers into the design like at St Peter's Basilica. Wren drew inspiration from a classical portico at Val-de-Grâce and incorporated it with two floors and paired columns. The towers stand outside the aisles' breadth, however, they serve as a screen for two chapels directly behind them. The original Wren-designed fencing was demolished in the 1870s.

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

The Interior of St Paul’s Cathedral Dome

The main space of St Paul’s Cathedral with the nave and the aisles is under the dome. Eight arches span across the nave, aisles, choir and transepts, between each a pendentive that supports the large dome. Wren designed wide arches with coffered vaults to create the divide between the principal areas that lead to the dome and the apse of the choir. The North Choir and the South Choir are the transepts that run north and south of the dome. The dome is erected on a tall drum encircled by pilasters and pierced with windows in threes, separated by eight gilded niches containing sculptures and duplicating peristyle patterns from the exterior. At the time of its completion, St Paul’s Cathedral was ornamented with stone and wood sculptures, most prominently that of Grinling Gibbons, Thornhill’s paintings in the dome, and Jean Tijou’s magnificent metalwork.

Book Your St Paul's Cathedral Tickets

St Paul's Cathedral Admission Tickets

Flexible Hours
Mobile Tickets
More Details +

The London Pass - Unlimited Attractions Pass

Duration: 1 to 10 Days
Mobile Tickets
Free Cancellation
Extended Validity
More Details +

Combo (Save 5%): Westminster Abbey + St. Pauls Cathedral Tickets

Instant Confirmation
More Details +
From £46.20£43.89
Save 5%

Highlights of St Paul’s Cathedral Dome

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

The Whispering Gallery

The Whispering Gallery, where even the quietest whispers are carried across the dome, is the cathedral’s standout attraction. The Whispering Gallery is 30 meters above the nave’s crossing. It is a circular promenade that hugs the dome’s base and provides a dizzying view of the cathedral floor far below. A whisper has a low ‘intensity’, which means it is less susceptible to reverberation and other disturbances. Whisper along the curved wall, and someone will be able to hear you from elsewhere along the same wall, even if they are on the opposite side of the circle.

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

The Stone Gallery

The Stone Gallery, which is encircled by a balustraded balcony, rises above the peristyle of the dome. On this level, you can find alternating pilasters and rectangular windows situated slightly below the cornice, giving it a light appearance. You need to climb 376 steps to get to this level, but the view of the city and the cathedral floor from the Stone Gallery makes it worth the toil.

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

The Golden Gallery

The Golden Gallery is located at the top of the cathedral and is accessible via 528 steps from the cathedral level. This is the smallest alley, which encircles the outer dome’s highest point. The views from here are breathtaking, with the River Thames, the Tate Modern, The Shard, and the Globe Theatre among the numerous London landmarks visible.

St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets

The Ball and the Lantern

The golden ball and lantern, which sits high above the cathedral dome and is six feet in circumference and can hold ten people, is not open to the public. However, the sight itself adds a bit of grandeur to this world-famous London attraction. The lantern stands at the highest point of the structure providing a mesmerizing view of the city. The ball and cross are about 23 feet tall and weigh about 7 tons.

Climbing the St Paul’s Cathedral Dome

The three-domed construction of St Paul's Cathedral is unique. There are a total of 1161 steps that you will need to climb to see all the galleries in the dome. Although this number is quite large, the climb to the top of the dome allows you to view the magnificently gorgeous skyline of London city. 

Climbing the St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome involves physical strain, however, and it must be attempted only if you think it is safe for you. If you feel that you will be unable to make it all the way to the top, please don’t attempt to climb the dome as the way up is separate from the way down.