Dominating the central London skyline from every direction, St Paul's Cathedral is Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. It was built between 1675 and 1711 after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire.
The magnificent structure miraculously survived the aerial bombings of World War II and today it attracts visitors from around the world who come to see the beautiful frescoes and mosaics, monuments to military men, artists and architects, the enormous crypt and the three galleries in the colossal dome.
St Paul's is best explored with a guide who can point out interesting details, reveal much about its history and provide a greater insight into one of London's most famous landmarks.
You'll meet your private guide either at your hotel or the cathedral in the afternoon and begin by learning a little about the site's history and the previous four churches that stood here.
Your guide then explains how the design of the present cathedral was developed. Breaking free from the traditional architectural style found in historic cathedrals throughout England, Wren opted for a subdued Baroque style using Portland stone and minimal stained glass, allowing natural light to reflect off the cream stone and flood the cathedral with daylight.
Inside, the sheer magnitude of the cathedral becomes immediately apparent. From the Great West Doors you get an impressive view down the length of the nave which leads to the cathedral's monumental dome.
Your guide will point out the exquisite mosaics in the chancel, the trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye) frescoes beneath the dome, the beautifully-carved choir stalls and the best sculptures, telling you about the craftsmen who created them and their significance in the cathedral's design.
One of the most memorable aspects of a visit however, is the view from the dome, which is second in size only to St Peter's in Rome. With your guide you can climb the 528 steps to the top of the dome, which offers spectacular views over central London.
There are three stages — the indoor balcony of the Whispering Gallery, with its unique acoustics, the outer Stone Gallery at the base of the dome, and the Golden Gallery located at the top of the dome. From this vantage point, you have wonderful views over the city and along the River Thames to the London Eye and Westminster.
The tour takes about two hours and finishes at the cathedral. Afterwards you're free to wander around a little longer or relax in a nearby café with a view of the glorious west façade.