St Paul's Cathedral is the Anglican cathedral on Ludgate Hill in the City of London and the seat of the Bishop of London. The present building dates from the 17th century and is generally reckoned to be London's fifth St Paul's Cathedral, not counting every major medieval reconstruction as a new cathedral. The cathedral sits on the highest point of the City of London, which originated as the Roman trading post of Londinium situated on the River Thames. The cathedral is one of London's most visited sights.
St Paul's Cathedral today is a busy working church. Daily services are held every day to which all are welcome to attend. Whilst the Cathedral charges for those who wish to sightsee, it does not charge for people who want to worship. Those attending services at St Paul's do so at no cost. People seeking a place to be quiet and pray are admitted to the St Dunstan's Chapel free of charge. Admission on Sundays for all services is free and there is no sightseeing.
The Royal Family holds most of their important marriages, christenings and funerals at Westminster Abbey, but St Paul's was used for the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. The religious service for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee was also celebrated there.
In 2001, Britain's memorial service to honour the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks was held at the cathedral, attended by the Royal Family and then-U.S. ambassador William Farish. Prince Philip spoke, as did Farish, and Farish said in 2004 in The Times just before he resigned as ambassador that this service showed the strong relationship between the US and Britain. On 1 November 2005, it held a memorial service for the 7 July bombings.
It is possible to climb the 530 steps to the Golden Gallery, where there are panoramic views of London. In 2000, the cathedral began a major restoration programmeto celebrate the 300th anniversary of its 'topping out'. A ceremony to celebrate the anniversary was directed by Patrick Garland. The restoration programme is expected to cost £40 million, and involves repair and cleaning of the building, and improvement of visitor facilities, such as accessibility for the disabled, and provision of additional educational facilities.