Climb the Dome

Today at the Cathedral View More
8:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Choral Mattins
11:15am Sung Eucharist
3:00pm Choral Evensong
5:30pm Eucharist
6:00pm Cathedral closes

Climb the Dome


Explore the Dome and the breathtaking views from the Golden Gallery with our Virtual Tour

The Dome
St Paul's is built in the shape of a cross, with a large dome crowning the intersection of its arms. At 111.3 metres high, it is one of the largest cathedral domes in the world and weighs approximately 65,000 tons. The area under the dome is the principal place for worship in the Cathedral.

St Paul's has a three-dome structure. This allows the inner dome to rise in proportion to the internal architecture  and the outer dome to be much larger and impressive. It is this outer dome shell that is prominent on the London skyline. The inner dome is the painted dome one can see looking up from the cathedral floor. Between these two domes is a third; a brick cone which provide strength and supports the stone lantern above.
It has been suggested that Wren had intended to decorate the inside of the dome in mosaic. But in 1708 the cathedral commissioners appointed James Thornhill to paint it in monochrome, partly because mosaic was expensive, time-consuming and considered too elaborate.
Thornhill began work on the dome in 1715 and finished four years later. His murals are based on a series of pen and ink sketches on the life of St Paul. What we see today are reproductions from Thornhill's designs that were repainted in 1853. The originals deteriorated as a result of the British climate and London smog.

The Whispering Gallery
Climb 257 steps up the dome and you will find The Whispering Gallery, which runs around the interior of the Dome. It gets its name from a charming quirk in its construction, which makes a whisper against its walls audible on the opposite side.

‘This was fun the first time I did it – but magical the second time, because my five year old son was with me. The Whispering Gallery with a child … Pure joy!’Steve Silver, New Hampshire, USA

The Stone Gallery
The Stone Gallery is the first of two galleries above the Whispering Gallery that encircle the outside of the dome. The Stone Gallery stands at 173 ft (53.4 metres) from ground-level and can be reached by 378 steps. 

The Golden Gallery
The Golden Gallery is the smallest of the galleries and runs around the highest point of the outer dome, 280ft (85.4 metres) Visitors who climb the 528 steps to this gallery will be treated to panoramic views of London that take in the River Thames, Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. 

The Ball and Lantern
The original ball and cross were erected by Andrew Niblett, Citizen and Armourer of London, in 1708. They were replaced by a new ball and cross in 1821 designed by the Surveyor to the Fabric, CR Cockerell and executed by R and E Kepp. The ball and cross stand at 23 feet high and weigh approximately 7 tonnes.

For up to date Dome Gallery opening times, please visit our Sightseeing, times and prices page.