The attraction: The Monument to the Great Fire of London (more commonly known as simply The Monument) is one of London’s oldest historical attractions. Constructed between the years 1671-1677, it was built to serve as a a monument to the Great Fire that raged three days and destroyed the homes of 70,000 of London’s 80,000 inhabitants in 1666. Designed by architects Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke (the former the same man who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral), its height of 202 feet marks the exact distance between it and the site in Pudding Lane where the fire began. Standing at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, the Monument is the tallest isolated stone column in the world.
Pros to visiting: Although it’s a grueling climb to the top, a total of 311 steps on an extremely winding and narrow staircase, the view of London is more than enough reason to visit. However, the 334 year old monument should be more the reason to see it. It’s an attraction that has been receiving tourists for over three centuries. Very few sights in the world can say they’ve been in the tourist business for that long a period. It’s by no means a hidden attraction, but I feel it’s not as well known as some of London’s other sites, thus resulting in less of a mob like feel. The added bonus is that upon your descent to the ground you are awarded with a certificate acknowledging you have climbed the 311 steps of the Monument. It provides a brief background to the events of the fire and its aftermath as well as an 18th century illustration of the Monument on the one side.
Cons to visiting: For me there really aren’t any cons to visiting. As the staircase is extremely narrow and cramped with climbers coming and going in both directions, I wouldn’t recommend a climb to the top for anyone who is claustrophobic. However, there are still photo opportunities and experiences with history to be had by remaining on the street level.
Conclusion: On my two trips to London, the Monument remains one of my favorite attractions there. Although many people can say they’ve been to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, not everyone can claim they were to the top of the Monument. It’s a fitting memorial to one of the most horrific events in London’s history and definitely a site worth visiting.