Monday, July 24, 2017

London Dubai 2017 - 12 St Paul's Cathedral in London

May 22, 2017, another sunny day.  Our itinerary today will be visiting the great churches in London, The key for such visits will be: get there early, get there early and get there early!

We took a bus very early in the morning from Paddington to St Paul's Cathedral.  On the way, we passed by many landmarks, including the famous Fleet Street.  If you have never heard of it, it was the heart of the press industry in UK.  Who is who in the newspaper line are all here.  However, in recent years, with the decline of the newspaper industry, I heard that many had closed down, or moved out.  Time and tide waits for nobody.

Ok, back to our first destination for the day, St Paul's Cathedral.  The reason I wanted to visit this Cathedral because many years ago, I saw in the internet claiming St Paul in London is the world's second largest cathedral, only second to St Peter's in Rome.  However, as I checked my facts again, obviously that was no longer true, or was never true in the first place.

St Paul's viewed from the South side

Anyway, St Paul's is designed in the Baroque style, with the unmistakable dome dominating the nearby skyline.  Layout is the more traditional cross, with the high altar at the east and the main entrance at the west.  It signifies God rises with the sun.  There is a saying, one man's delicacy is another's poison.  A west facing building commands lots of respect in the west, while in the east, only tombs will face the west, as when the sun sets, it will shine on the building.  Sunset is a perfect metaphor for the end.  

Visitors are to get in from the west gate, at a cost of ₤18.00.  Strictly no photography is allowed inside the cathedral, as it is a "working" cathedral, with hourly prayers and daily services.  For more details of the interior, it is better for you to ask Google.  Nonetheless, I would like to mention to you that there are actually three galleries in St Paul's.  Gallery here is an architectural term, which means a structure like a colonnade  corridor.  If you look at my picture above, the section right below the dome, with many high columns, that is a Gallery!

There are a total of three galleries, two outside, one inside.  On our day of visit, the two outside galleries were closed for renovation work, only the inside gallery, which is called the whisper gallery, was open.

The whisper gallery is at the inside of the dome.  To get there, go to the extreme end of the cathedral, at the left side corner, you will find the entrance.  Once you enter, you have to climb up probably a hundred steps, in a narrow walk way, to reach the base of the dome.  If you are not physically fit, if you have phobia in narrow space, then it is better not to do this.

The gallery is at the base of the dome.  A narrow walkway circles the entire dome.  From there, you can look down at the nave.  Really, it is not for the faint-hearted.  The reason it is called the Whisper Gallery, is because if you whisper to the wall, your friend on the other side can hear you clearly.  I didn't try because there were way too many people trying that, all the signals mix up and became noise :-).

Somehow, I find this echoing effect can be found in any structure with a curve and smooth surface. So far, the single structure that exemplifies this is that rain water collector at Marina Bay Sands in home Singapore!

Visit to St Paul's can be overwhelming.  My friend and I are not history bugs, not architecture bugs, not religion bugs, we are only your ordinary tourists, yet we spend more than two hours there.  If you are planning a visit, it is advisable to set aside 2-3 hours.  And it is a great place as your plan B on a rainy day.

Until my next post, bye...

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