Around midnight on September 2, 1666, a fire started in Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane, close to London Bridge. The Great Fire of London, as it would come to be known, went on to destroy large parts of the old city and led to a major rebuilding program.
As part of this new construction, a monument was proposed that would commemorate the losses caused by the Great Fire. Like much of London at that time, it was designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Completed in 1677 and called simply The Monument, the Portland stone memorial is the tallest freestanding column in the world, standing 202 feet high. It’s topped with a flaming urn of copper to symbolize the Great Fire, and the base features bas reliefs depicting both the fire and reconstruction.
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The north side of the base bears this inscription:
“In the year of Christ 1666, on 2 September, at a distance eastward from this place of 202 ft, which is the height of this column, a fire broke out in the dead of night which, the wind blowing, devoured even distant buildings, and rushed devastating through every quarter with astonishing swiftness and noise …On the third day… at the bidding, we may well believe, of heaven, the fire stayed its course and everywhere died out.”
Inside the Monument’s column is a narrow spiral staircase; visitors can climb 311 steps to a platform that offers fantastic views of central London. Visiting hours are every day from 9.30am-5.30pm, and tickets can be purchased for £2 on the eastern side of the Monument’s base.
The Monument is located just north of London Bridge on Monument Street, the nearest Tube is Monument on the District and Circle Lines. Map