The Monument, on Fish Street Hill in the City of London, commemorates the 1666 Great Fire of London and at 61.5m is the tallest free-standing stone column in the world.
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren on the orders of King Charles II the Monument was completed in 1677. The Portland stone column is topped with a gild-bronze flaming urn which shines on even the cloudiest of days.
Wren’s original proposal was to place a statue of the King on top, but Charles objected stating ‘I did not start the fire’.
The Great Fire, which started in a bakers shop in Pudding Lane exactly 202 feet (61.5m) away from the Monument, destroyed 80% of the City of London’s medieval buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral.
Fanned by a strong wind, the fire raged through the City’s densely packed wooden buildings for over 5 days.
Eventually it was brought under control by soldiers from the Tower of London barracks who, taking advantage of the lighter winds, created effective fire breaks by blowing up buildings.
Although over 70,000 people’s homes, 87 churches, 44 halls, The Royal Exchange and Customs House were all destroyed there was relatively little loss of life.
Open to the public, the Monument is a popular tourist and visitor attraction. The hollow stone column has no lift, just 311 spiral steps to the viewing platform, once the highest viewpoint in London.
Now, fully caged in for safety, the sights from the top are some of the best in London, offering 360 degree views of the City and beyond.
In July 2010, the Monument won the prestigious City Heritage Award. Presented on an annual basis, the award is given to the best refurbishment project in the City of London.