St Paul’s Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604.
The present church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed within Wren’s lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding program which took place in the city after the Great Fire of London.
The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognizable sights of London, with its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, dominating the skyline for 300 years. At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962, and its dome is also among the highest in the world. In terms of area, St Paul’s is the second largest church building in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.
St. Paul’s is much more than a place of worship. It is a specific against grossness, brutality and despair. And to set foot into St. Paul’s is to experience that cold shock straight from the past, beauty as a genius conceived it, grace that we had forgotten.
it is built in a restrained Baroque style which represents Wren’s rationalization of the traditions of English Medieval cathedrals with the inspiration of Palladio, the Classical style of Inigo Jones, the Baroque style of 17th-century Rome, and the buildings by Mansart and others that he had seen in France. It is particularly in its plan that St Paul’s reveals medieval influences. Like the great Medieval cathedrals of York and Winchester, St Paul’s is comparatively long for its width, and has strongly projecting transepts.
It has much emphasis on its facade, which has been designed to define rather than conceal the form of the building behind it. In plan, the towers just beyond the width of the aisles as they do at Wells Cathedral. Wren’s brother was the Bishop of Ely, and Wren was familiar with the unique octagonal lantern tower over the crossing of Ely Cathedral which spans the aisles as well as the central nave, unlike the central towers and domes of most churches.
Wren adapted this characteristic in designing the dome of St Paul’s. In section St Paul’s also maintains a medieval form, having the aisles much lower than the nave, and a defined clerestory.