Since it was a partly sunny day today (i.e. before 1pm), I spontaneously decided to visit the Monument to the Great Fire of London during my lunch break. I don’t know how busy the Monument is on a daily or yearly basis but noon half 12 seemed to be the best time to go as there were only a few people at the top.
The Monument is a colossal Doric column to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the rebuilding of the City of London. For those of you who don’t know, the Great Fire began in the wee hours on Sunday, 2 September in a baker’s house on Pudding Lane and ravaged the City (not all of London) for 3 days. It was finally extinguished on the 5th. Which buildings survived? The ones built of stone and a few lucky buildings. (It’s an even bigger miracle that some of these lucky buildings survived the blitz during WWII!)
After the disaster, it was decided that a permanent memorial to the Great Fire should be erected near the origin of the Great Fire, exactly 61m (202ft) from the baker’s former house. Sir Christopher Wren – who, by the way, is the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral – and his friend Dr Robert Hooke were the designers and architect. The Monument was constructed between 1671-77 and is also 61m high, with 311 steps to the viewing platform. (By the way, this is very good exercise – 311 to the top, 311 back down, so 622 steps altogether. No lift for very obvious reasons.)
The viewing platform itself is 48.7m (160ft) above ground and fully caged so that 1) you may not jump from the platform (it had had a history of suicides and tragic accidents for a century) and 2) the wind will not blow you off the platform (I was forcefully blown backwards a few times). From the platform, one can see well-known landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, Tower of London (just the top), the Shard, and the Gherkin.
You’ll notice that much of the City was clearly rebuilt after WWII. Strangely enough, one of the first of many bombs fell almost exactly the same distance as the origin of the Great Fire, only westward this time. By some miracle, Wren’s Monument and St Paul’s Cathedral survived the bombings with superficial damage. As I was neither born nor raised in London, I do not feel that I have the right to comment on some of the new structures that have popped up over the City but I’m sure Prince Charles has spoken about it before. 😉
Once one has safely made it to the ground floor again, one receives a small certificate to certify that he/she has climbed the 311 steps of the Monument (but as mentioned earlier, it will have been 622 altogether)!
Address: Fish Street Hill
Tube stop: Monument, London Bridge, Bank
Hours: Daily 9:30-17:30 (Oct-March); -18:00 (Apr-Sept) *Last admission half an hour before closing time!
Admission: £4 adults / £2.70 students