Power, drama and illusion define the most theatrical architectural style of them all
The Victorian age may have created modern London but it was the age of the baroque that transformed a rambling, medieval city into one of the greatest classical capitals of the world. The Great Fire of London was the spur for this dramatic change and while the plan to rebuild the city on the planned, axial lines of Ancient Rome were never realised, the spirit of scale, monumentality and ornamentation that has defined the city ever since was set. The English Baroque may have only lasted for a comparatively short period and may too have been marred by entrenched political and religious tension. But these fissures galvanised the creation of a stylistic hybrid unique in Europe that ingeniously combined the emotional drama of baroque's Italian roots with a tempered rationalism peculiar to its English variant.
So successful was this enterprise that 200 years later, Victorian and Edwardian London revived the baroque as the only style capable of conveying the power and grandeur imperial London demanded. In so doing it was lavishly deployed on a whole host of new public and commercial buildings throughout the London and beyond. But as home to its earliest incarnations the baroque has a special place in the urban and architectural heritage of the City of London. For not only did it furnish it with one of the greatest cathedrals in the world but it electrified its historic fabric with new, sensuous dimensions of melodrama, theatricality and surprise.
St. Paul's Cathedral
WALK START LOCATION: Monument tube station (Fish Street Hill Exit) / Map
WALK ENDS: Near St. Paul's Cathedral