October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher Wren

Born on this day in 1632, Wren is one the most famous architects in history. He is responsible for designing more than 50 churches in London, after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral.

Wren was a polymath (learned in many subjects), noted for his knowledge or contributions to astronomy, geometry, and mathematics as well as architecture. Intellectual superstars such as Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal spoke highly of his scientific work.

St. Paul's took 36 years to built and boasts one of the largest domes in the world. It was the tallest building in London from the time it was finished in 1710 until 1962! It was targeted during the German bombing of London during World War II (the Blitz), and although buildings all around it were destroyed, remarkably, it survived. (The cathedral was struck by two bombs that did not destroy it, and a third time-delayed bomb would have utterly destroyed it if it had not been defused and removed by the bomb disposal unit of the Royal Engineers!)

This cathedral is well worth a visit! One thing I remember about my visit was the Whispering Gallery. This is reached after climbing many stairs up to the dome. If one person whispers against the wall at any point in the dome, the whisper can be heard by a listener with an ear held to the wall at any other point around the gallery! Actually, this is true of any dome—if you find yourself in one, try it!

Of course, Wren designed many other important buildings, including hospitals, libraries, and palace buildings. (At the Wikipedia link, scroll down to the gallery of Wren's buildings.)

Learn more about architecture.
ArchKIDecture is a great site to explore! 

Fact Monster is fun, too!

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