Back in 1677, it was the tallest thing (61m/200 ft.) in town and it made people gasp. Today, it’s hemmed in by personality-free glass buildings. The Monument was erected to commemorate the destruction of the city by the Great Fire in 1666. Its height also represents the distance east from its base to the site of Thomas Farynor’s bakery in Pudding Lane, where the conflagration began. There’s only one thing to do in this fluted column of Portland stone: Climb it. The spiral staircase of 15cm (6-in.) steps, which has no landings, gradually narrows as it ascends to the outdoor observation platform—a popular suicide spot until 1842, when a cage was installed. They’ll tell you it’s 311 steps to the top, but they’re lying—it’s 313, if you count the two steps before the box office. Check out the metal band snaking down the north side; it’s a lightning rod, and it crosses along a Latin inscription blaming Catholics for starting the fire (the insult was chiseled off in 1831). Tickets are discounted in combo deals with the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Go on a pleasant day (unless you’d like a good wind whipping), be prepared to leave large bags downstairs, and ask for your free certificate of accomplishment before you go.
Monument St. at Fish St. Hill, WC4
Our Rating Hours April–Sept daily 9:30am–6pm; Oct–Mar daily 9:30am–5:30pm; last admission 30 min. before closing Transportation Tube: Monument or Bank Phone 020/3627-2552 Prices £4.50 adults, £3 seniors and students, £2.30 children 15 and under. Cash only. Web site The Monument
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.