Thursday, 29 October 2009

St Paul's Cathedral - A Tough Climb to the Heavens

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the famous buildings in London.

When you step into this Sir Christopher Wren masterpiece and marvel at its magnificent architecture, be prepared also to heed the challenge that the Cathedral holds for all who dare – to climb to the top of its famous dome.

View of St Paul's famous dome from the Millennium Bridge

Now … to me, this climb made climbing Batu Caves in Malaysia look like a piece of cake.

Let me tell you why.

The climb from the Cathedral Floor to the topmost part of the dome which is called the Golden Gallery can be divided into 3 levels:

1) Climb from Cathedral Floor to Whispering Gallery (257 steps)
2) From Whispering Gallery to Stone Gallery (376 steps)
3) From Stone Gallery to Golden Gallery (528 steps)

That’s a total of 1,161 steps, which makes St Paul's Cathedral the highest and toughest religious man-made structure I've ever climbed to date!

(Note: Click here for illustration of the 3 levels)

By the time you reach the Golden Gallery, you would be 85 metres from the Cathedral Floor and definitely out of breath.

I would love to show you the lovely interiors of the Cathedral, but photography is not allowed inside.

Anyway, if you’re wondering why do they call it the Whispering Gallery, it’s because when you whisper against one wall in the Whispering Gallery, whatever you say can be heard 32 metres away on the other side of the dome.

So be careful if you want to use profanities here. At the Whispering Gallery, the phrase “the walls have ears” is literally that.

What made the climb difficult was not only the sheer number of steps, but something else. We had to pass spiral staircases, low doorways and narrow passageways like these

Watch your head, John!

Another narrow passageway

Would be difficult to climb if you're horizontally challenged.

John is definitely not claustrophobic

The narrow passageway above made me feel like I’m in an Indiana Jones movie where the booby trap has been triggered and the walls were closing in.

As we were reaching the Golden Gallery, I saw this hole in the floor

When I looked closely, I realised the hole is directly on top of the dome and looks down into the middle of the Cathedral.

The ring where the blue tarpaulin is is the Whispering Gallery. The tiny brown thingies in the middle of the photo are chairs for the congregation. That's the view from 85 feet!

When you reach the Golden Gallery, you'll be rewarded with a bird's eye view of London. You get to see

Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge that leads to it

The River Thames and the London Eye. Can you spot the Houses of Parliament in this photo?

I also saw this obelisk-like structure surrounded by buildings and thought it looked cool.

Later I found out the obelisk-like structure is called the Paternoster Square Column in Paternoster Square, which is situated beside St Paul's Cathedral.

If you visit London, I don't think you'll miss St Paul's Cathedral and its dome which is one of the biggest in the world. After all, it has been on sitting on this site since 604AD, majestically and silently looking after the city of London.

The official St Paul's Cathedral website has a beautiful description of it: "St Paul’s is not only an iconic part of the London skyline but also a symbol of the hope, resilience and strength of the city and nation it serves. Above all, St Paul’s Cathedral is a lasting monument to the glory of God."

To me, St Paul's Cathedral is a gentle reminder that the search for God is sometimes not easy - just like climbing to the top of St Paul's dome.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pics! Its good that you managed to visit St Paul's Cathedral. I was only transiting in London, hence was there for just half a day or thereabouts, no chance to see the Cathedral. I tell myself I must go back London again, to tour the place more thoroughly the next time round!

Julie Lim said...

Thanks Juphelia!

If you're planning to visit St Paul's Cathedral, make sure you've been working out regularly at the gym, hahaha.

Anonymous said...

I believe the hole (window)in the dome is 85 meters, not feet.

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