Thursday, November 7, 2013

Monument, London

The Monument stands in Monument Street, in the City of London. It was built between 1671 and 1677, to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City.

The Fire began in a baker’s house in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2nd September 1666 and was finally extinguished on Wednesday 5th September, after destroying the greater part of the City. Although there was little loss of life, the fire brought all activity to a halt, having consumed or severely damaged thousands of houses, hundreds of streets, the City’s gates, public buildings, churches and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The only buildings to survive were those that were built of stone, such as the Guildhall.

As part of the rebuilding, it was decided to erect a permanent memorial to the Great Fire near the place where it began. Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor General to King Charles II and architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and his friend and colleague, Dr Robert Hooke, provided a design for a colossal Doric column in the antique tradition. They drew up plans for a column containing a cantilevered stone staircase of 311 steps leading to a viewing platform, 48.7 metres above the ground. Whoever attempts to climb all the steps is rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of the metropolis of London.

This was surmounted by a drum and a copper urn from which flames emerged, symbolising the Great Fire. The Monument, as it came to be called, is 61 metres high – exact distance between it and the site Pudding Lane where the fire began. This allegorical sculpture on the pedestal above was executed by Caius Gabriel Cibber. 

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