Sir Christopher Wren's 1677 column, known simply as the Monument, is a memorial to the Great Fire of London of 1666, whose impact on London’s history cannot be overstated. An immense Doric column made of Portland stone, the Monument is 4.5m wide and 60.6m tall – the exact distance it stands from the bakery in Pudding Lane where the fire is thought to have started.
The Monument is topped with a gilded bronze urn of flames that some think resembles a big gold pincushion. Although Lilliputian by today’s standards, the Monument would have been gigantic when built, towering over London. An earlier Wren design for the Monument had the column topped with a phoenix rising from the ashes, while another substituted that for a large statue of Charles II, before the current appearance was selected.
Climbing up the column’s 311 spiral steps rewards you with some of the best 360-degree views over London (due to its central location as much as to its height). And after your descent, you’ll also be the proud owner of a certificate that commemorates your achievement. At the time of research, the memorial was closed for maintenance and repair, but should be open by the time you read this. Note that tickets can be purchased with cash only.