Smithfield St Pauls

ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL Map pll0&pll2 @ 7236 4128; www.stpauls.co.uk; St Paul's Churchyard EC4; adult/6-16yr/senior & student £9.50/3.50/8.50; S 8.30am-4pm (last entry) Mon-Sat; -e St Paul's; cK

Occupying a superb position atop Ludgate Hill, one of London's most recognisable buildings is Sir Christopher Wren's master-work, completed in 1710 after the previous building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The proud bearer of the capital's largest church dome, St Paul's Cathedral has seen a lot in its 300-plus years, although Ludgate Hill has been a place of worship for almost 1400 years, the current incarnation being the fifth to stand on this site. St

Paul's almost didn't make it off the drawing board, as Wren's initial designs were rejected. However, since its first service in 1697, it's held funerals for Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Winston Churchill, and has played host to Martin Luther King as well as the ill-fated wedding of Charles and Diana. For Londoners the vast dome, which still manages to loom amid the far higher skyscrapers in the Square Mile, is a symbol of resilience and pride - miraculously surviving the Blitz unscathed. Today the cathedral is undergoing a huge restoration project to coincide with its 300th anniversary in 2010, so some parts may be under scaffold when you visit.

However, despite all the fascinating history and its impressive interior, people

THE CITY

INFORMATION

City Information Centre 1 C3

Liverpool Street Tourist Office 2 E1

SIGHTS (pp109-24)

20 Fenchurch St 3 E3

30 St Mary Axe 4 E2

All Hallows-by-the-Tower 5 E4

Bank of England Museum 6 D2

Barbican 7 D1

Blshopsgate Tower S E3

Central Criminal Court (Old

Bailey) 9 B2

Church of St

Ethelburga-the-Vlrgin 10 E2

Church of St Olave 11 E3

Dr Johnson's House 12 A2

Golden Boy of Pye Corner 13 B2

Guildhall 14 D2

Guildhall Art Gallery (see 14)

Heron Tower 15 E2

Holborn Viaduct 16 B2

Leadenhall Building 17 E3

Leadenhall Market 18 E3

Lloyd's of London 19 E3

Mansion House 20 D3

Monument 21 D3

Museum of London 22 C2

Roman London Amphitheatre..(see 14)

Royal Exchange 23 D3

St Andrew Holborn 24 B2

St Bartholomew-the-Great 25 C1

St Brides, Fleet St 26 B3

St Lawrence Jewry 27 D2

St Mary Woolnoth 28 D3

St Mary-le-Bow 29 C3

St Paul's Cathedral 30 C3

St Stephen Walbrook 31 D3

Smlthfield Market 32 B1

Temple of Mithras 34 D3

Tower Bridge 35 F4

Tower of London 36 F4

SHOPPING O (pp215-34)

Leadenhall Market (see 18)

Petticoat Lane Market 37 F2

Smlthfield Market (see 32)

EATING SD (pp235-75)

Clro's Pizza Pomodoro 38 E2

City Mlyama 39 C3

Club Gascon 40 C1

Paternoster Chop House 41 C2

Place Below (see 29)

Royal Exchange Grand

Salade 43 B2

Sweeting's 44 D3

White Swan Pub &. Dining

Room 45 A2

Wine Library 46 F3

DRINKING g Q (pp277-96)

Black Friar 47 B3

Counting House 48 E3

El Vino 49 A3

Jamaica Wine House 50 D3

Vertigo 42 51 E2

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese 52 B2

NIGHTLIFE H (pp297-310)

St Paul's

Cathedral (see 30)

Volupté 53 A2

ARTS 0 (pp311-21)

Barbican (see 7)

SLEEPING Q (pp339-61)

Grange City Hotel 54 F3

Great Eastern Hotel 55 E2

Threadneedles 56 D3

Travelodge Liverpool Street 57 F2

YHA London St Paul's 58 C3

are usually most interested in climbing the dome for one of the best views of London imaginable. It's actually three domes, one inside the other, but it made the cathedral Wren's tour de force and only a handful of others throughout the world (mostly in Italy) outdo it in size. Exactly 530 stairs take you to the top, but it's a three-stage journey. The cathedral is built in the shape of a cross, with the dome at its intersection. So first find the circular paved area between the eight massive columns supporting the dome, then head to the door on the western side of the southern transept. Some 30m and precisely 259 steps above, you reach the interior walkway around the dome's base. This is the Whispering Gallery, so called because if you talk close to the wall it really does carry your words around to the opposite side, 32m away.

Climbing even more steps (another 119) you reach the Stone Gallery, which is an exterior viewing platform, with 360-degree views of London, all of which are rather obscured by pillars and other suicide-preventing measures.

The further 152 iron steps to the Golden Gallery are steeper and narrower than below but are really worth the effort as long as you don't suffer from claustrophobia. From here, 111m above London, the city opens up to you, your view unspoilt by superflu ous railings; you'll be hard pushed to see anything better.

Of course, back on the ground floor, St Paul's offers plenty of riches for those who like to keep their feet firmly on its black-and-white tiled floor - and the interior has been stunningly restored in recent years. Just beneath the dome, for starters, is a compass and an epitaph written for Wren by his son: Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice (Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you).

In the northern aisle you'll find the All Souls' Chapel and the Chapel of St Dunstan, dedicated to the 10th-century archbishop of Canterbury, and the grandiose Duke of Wellington Memorial (1875). In the north transept chapel is Holman Hunt's celebrated painting The Light of the World, which depicts Christ knocking at an overgrown door that, symbolically, can only be opened from the inside. Beyond, in the cathedral's heart, are the particularly spectacular quire (or chancel) - its ceilings and arches dazzling with green, blue, red and gold mosaics - and the high altar. The ornately carved choir stalls by Grinling Gibbons on either side of the quire are exquisite, as are the ornamental wrought-iron gates, separating the aisles from the altar, by Jean Tijou (both men also worked on Hampton Court Palace). Walk around the altar, with its massive gilded

GROUND FLOOR

1 Entrance to Dome & Whispering Gallery

2 Dome & Wren's Epitaph

3 All Souls' Chapel

4 Chapel of St Dunstan

5 Duke of Wellington Memorial

6 The Light of the World

7 Quire

8 High Altar

9 Choir Stalls

10 Wrought-iron Gates

11 American Memorial Chapel

12 Effigy of John Donne

13 Crypt Entrances

CRYPT (keyed in italics)

14 OBE Chapel

15 Wellington's Tomb

16 Nelson's Tomb

17 Wren's Tomb

18 Treasury

19 Crypt Café

20 Shop

21 Monument to the People of London

Duke Memorial Chapel

oak canopy, to the American Memorial Chapel, a memorial to the 28,000 Americans based in Britain who lost their lives during WWII.

Around the southern side of the ambulatory is the effigy of John Donne (1573-1631). The one-time dean of St Paul's, Donne was also a metaphysical poet, most famous for the immortal lines 'No man is an island' and 'Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee' (both in the same poem!).

On the eastern side of both the north and south transepts are stairs leading down to the crypt, treasury and OBE Chapel, where weddings, funerals and other services are held for members of the Order of the British Empire. The crypt has memorials to up to 300 military demigods, including Florence Nightingale and Lord Kitchener, while both the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Nelson are actually buried here, Nelson having been placed in a black sarcophagus that is directly under the dome. On the surrounding walls are plaques in memory of those from the Commonwealth who died in various conflicts during the 20th century.

Wren's tomb is in the crypt, while architect Edwin Lutyens and poet William Blake are also remembered here. In a niche, there is also an exhibit of Wren's controversial plans for St Paul's and his actual working model. St Paul's was one of the 50 commissions the great architect was given after the Great Fire of London wiped out most of the City.

The treasury displays some of the cathedral's plate, along with some spectacular needlework, including Beryl Dean's jubilee cope (bishop's cloak) of 1977, showing spires of 73 London churches, and its matching mitre. There is a Crypt Café (S 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 10.30am-5pm Sun) and the restaurant Refectory (S 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat, 10.30am-5.30pmSun), in addition to a shop (S 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 10.30a m-5pm Sun).

Just outside the north transept, there's a simple monument to the people of London, honouring the 32,000 civilians killed (and another 50,000 seriously injured) in the defence of the city and the cathedral during WWII. Also to the left as you face the entrance stairway is Temple Bar, one of the original gateways to the City of London. This medieval stone archway once straddled Fleet St at a sight marked by a griffin (Map pp72-3) but was removed to Middlesex in 1878. Temple Bar was restored and made a triumphal return to London

(albeit in a totally new place) alongside the redevelopment of Paternoster Sq in 2003.

Audioguide tours in multiple languages lasting 45 minutes cost £3.50 for adults, or £3 for seniors and students; guided tours lasting Vh to two hours (adult/senior and student/child aged six to 16 years £3/2.50/1) leave the tour desk at 11 am, 11,30am, 1,30pm and 2pm. There are free organ recitals at St Paul's at 5pm most Sundays, as well as celebrity recitals (adult/ concession £8/5.50) at 6.30pm on the first Thursday of the month between May and October. Evensong takes place at 5pm Monday to Saturday and at 3.15pm on Sunday.

There is limited disabled access. Call ahead for further information.

MUSEUM OF LONDON Mapplio @ 0870 444 3852,7600 0807; www.museumo flondon.org.uk; London Wall EC2; admission free; S 10am-5.50pm Mon-Sat, noon-5.50pm Sun; ■©■ Barbican; ®

The Museum of London is one of the capital's best museums but remains largely off the radar for most visitors. That's not surprising when you consider that it's encased in concrete and located above a roundabout in the Barbican. Despite this, once you're inside it's a fascinating walk through the various incarnations of the capital from Anglo-Saxon village to global financial centre.

The newest gallery, called London Before London, outlines the development of the Thames Valley from 450 million years ago. Harnessing computer technology to enliven its exhibits and presenting impressive fossils and stone axe heads in shiny new cases, it somehow feels less warm and colourful than the more-established displays. In these you begin with the city's Roman era and move anticlockwise through the Saxon, medieval, Tudor and Stuart periods. Continuing down a ramp and past the ornate Lord Mayor's state coach, this history continues progressively until 1914, although at the time of writing the galleries were being expanded and improved to take visitors up to the present day. The finished galleries are due to open in late 2009.

Aside from the magnificently over-the-top state coach, highlights include the 4th-century lead coffin, skeleton and reconstructed face of a well-to-do young Roman woman whose remains were discovered in Spitalfields in 1999; the Cheapside Hoard, an amazing find of 16th- and 17th-century jewellery; the lo-fi but heartfelt Great Fire of London diorama, narrated from the renowned diary of Samuel Pepys; and a timeline of London's creeping urbanisation during the 18th and 19th centuries. There are two mock-ups of city streets: one represents Roman London, the other is called Victorian Walk and harks back to the 19th century (although Leadenhall Market, p118, creates a slightly less authentic, but more lively Victorian feeling).

You can pause for a breather in the pleasant garden in the building's central courtyard or head for the adjoining Museum Café, which serves light meals from 10am to 5.30pm (from 11.30am on Sunday). Alternatively, on a sunny day, pack some sandwiches and lunch in the next-door Barber Surgeon's Herb Garden.

When arriving, look for the Barbican's gate seven; before leaving, don't forget to have a browse through the well-stocked bookshop and check what the temporary exhibits are as these tend to be some of London's more interesting.

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