13 Iconic Buildings By Christopher Wren, The 17th Century Architect Who Defined The Look Of London

Wren1Wikimedia CommonSt. Paul’s Cathedral is perhaps Wren’s most famous work.

Sir Christopher Wren was the foremost architect in Britain in the 17th century.

An exponent of the neoclassical style, he supervised the rebuilding of the City of London after the Great Fire half-destroyed the capital in 1666.

An Oxford graduate, Wren was born in East Knowle, Wiltshire, on Oct. 20, 1632. He also was a founding member of the Royal Society in 1662. He was appointed Surveyor of the Royal Works in 1669, three years after the Great Fire, and designed the plans for 52 churches in London alone.

Born the son of a parish cleric, Wren was knighted a Sir for his famous works. He was rumoured to be a Freemason, as well.

Wren is most famous for the rebuilding of London’s largest church, St Paul’s Cathedral, which was reconstructed after the fire and opened in 1711. He also worked at Oxford and Cambridge.

To celebrate his birthday, Google UK has launched a doodle with compass and ruler today.

The facade of St Paul's Cathedral is in neoclassical style, with two rows of columns below a triangular tympanum. The two towers on the sides are a reminder of the medieval origin of the church.

The dome of St Paul's is one of the largest in the world and used to be London's tallest building until 1953.

The Monument is a commemoration of the Great Fire. It is built on the exact same location where the first flames sparkled in a bakery shop on the night of Sept. 2, 1666.

St. Vedast Church in Fleet Street is famous for journalists in London. The tall spire is one of Wren's signatory features, balancing the neoclassical style with gothic elements in church architecture.

St Mary Le Bow is another of London's oldest building. Completely burnt in the Great Fire, Wren rebuilt it with a taller tower.

Wren was also commissioned to design several civic palaces: this one is Hampton Court, one of the residences of the British monarch, on the Thames River west of London.

Marlborough House is the London residence of the homonymous duke, just at a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace.

Kensington Palace is another residence of the British monarchy. Until recently, Prince William and Kate Middleton lived here.

Wren also designed hospitals. This is the Royal Chelsea, still used as a retirement house for pensioners of the British army.

Greenwich Hospital was built in 1692 for pensioners of the Navy. It now hosts the Royal Naval College, as well as seasonal exhibitions.

Not too far from Greenwich Hospital is Greenwich Observatory, where the famous meridian take its name from. This building was also built by Wren, although in a somewhat different style.

Wren studied at Wadham College, Oxford, from 1650 to 1652. In 1664 he was commissioned to build the Sheldonian Theatre, used by the University for ceremonial lectures and musical concerts.

The University of Cambridge also commissioned several buildings by Wren: one of these is the library of Trinity College, in his characteristic style.

Want to have a look at some more modern buildings?

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