Quite possibly the most well known cathedral in London with Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the finest examples of English Baroque architecture and a major tipping point for the famous English architect Christopher Wren. Built after the Great fire of London, this cathedral since has been one of the major parts of London skyline with its huge dome and distinguishable Christopher Wren city spires. It was the highest building in London from 1710 to 1962 and its dome is still among the highest in the world.
One thing that’s really important is that, this is not the first St. Paul’s Cathedral on this site. The Old St. Paul’s Cathedral was built in 1087 and had one of the world’s tallest spires and was unarguably one of the best examples of Gothic architecture. With the Great fire of London in 1666, this cathedral burned down to the ground and Christopher Wren was appointed to build the “new” St. Paul’s Cathedral. Even before the Old St. Paul’s Cathedral there used to be at least three different churches on this site, and all of them burned down. The cathedral also became a symbol of the English resistance during the Blitz with the famous photograph taken by Herbert Mason.
Although I can go on and on about this cathedral, the main reason why I visited this cathedral lately was mainly due to a recital that I attended. Every once in a while St. Paul’s holds a free recital, which is open to the public. This is both a great chance to experience the architecture of this place and also listen to a great organ recital.
The organ recital that I went to included Choral No 2 in B Minor and Choral No 3 in A Minor from Cesar Franck‘s Dénounement. These chorals were written a couple of weeks before his death and are a fitting epitaph to his life. Describing this piece the organist Simon Johnson said: “At the very end – the dénounement- Franck looks further back, to the music of Bach. This can be seen in the very idea of “Chorales” which, though different in conception from those of Bach, nonetheless express something of the same yearning of spirit.” Both of the pieces were absolutely haunting and listening to this recital under the giant dome of St. Paul’s cathedral was definitely a very unique experience. For a video of St. Paul’s Cathedral’s organ please watch the video below.
Admission to St. Paul’s is £13 for adults and £12 for concessions.