The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, is an incredible structure, a true work of art in the sense of it being both lovely to look at and requiring incredible precision and workmanship in the design and the construction. Sir Christopher Wren, principal architect, originally produced several different designs for his dome before eventually settling on the one we have today, and of course he used a team of architects, who, through seemingly endless discussion, trial drawings, modelling, and debate, eventually produced this, certainly one of the greatest glories of London. (See photograph below).
From 1710, when the present cathedral was completed, until 1962, St.Paul’s Cathedral was London’s tallest building.
The dome of St.Paul’s is built in 3 sections (see side section view below) …
Stage 1: To the Whispering Gallery; 259 steps. Circles the dome’s interior at 30 metres above the floor of the cathedral transept.
Stage 2: Further up to the Stone Gallery; another 119 steps at 53.4 metres above the ground.
Stage 3: To the Golden Gallery, reducing in size as we get higher . This runs around the highest point of the outer dome. It is 85.4 metres (280 ft) from the cathedral floor below and there are another 150 steps to climb to reach it.
That is a total of 528 steps in all!
Having made the journey to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral only once in my lifetime, and having also once climbed to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, which claims to have the tallest dome in the world, I found it interesting to make some comparisons between these two domed buildings.
St.Peter’s, Rome, has a height of 448 feet (or 136.5 metres) to the top of its cross. It has 551 steps from the floor of the cathedral to the top of the dome
St Paul’s, London, is 365 feet (or 111 metres); It has 528 steps from the ground floor to the top of its dome.
On the basis of these figures, I calculate that the average height of the steps of St.Peter’s is approximately 8 inches, whilst the steps of St.Paul’s have an average height of about 8 1/2 inches. So with St.Paul’s having 23 fewer steps to climb, but each one requiring your foot to be raised an additional ½ inch, which steps are the easier to climb? . . . AND ANSWER CAME THERE NONE!
There are several videos on YouTube which will take you up and down these steps to the Dome of St.Paul’s and which give panoramic views of London from the top.