The Monument was designed by Christopher Wren, built on the orders of Charles II to commemorate the dead of the Great Fire of London in 1666, and completed in 1677. A tall, thin column of stone, it was the tallest building in the world at the time. (It's still the tallest free standing stone column in the world.) The 202 foot height matches the distance from its base to the point where the fire first started, on Pudding Lane. It's built on the site of one of the 89 churches destroyed in the fire.

After the wooden buildings of London were consumed in the flames (around 80 per cent in the area), there was a great wave of optimism. Not only had the last traces of the plague been cleared away, but now there was the chance to rebuild the city in brick and stone, and build streets that were more open, less cram-jammed in on top of each other. The carvings on the bottom of the Monument reflect this.

With 400 steps to the top and no elevator, it's an effort to climb on a summer's day, panting and sweating to the top, but worth it for the slice of view between the buildings. Only costs a quid or thereabouts to go in. And the way it catches the sunlight, and all the gold glitters and shines at the top is a mad surprise between the serious City buildings that swarm around it.

note: the Circle and District Line tube station at monument is not at all close to the Central Line one at Bank, whatever the tubemap indicates.

Mon"u*ment (?), n. [F., fr. L. monumentum, fr. monere to remind, admonish. See Monition, and cf. Moniment.]

1.

Something which stands, or remains, to keep in remembrance what is past; a memorial.

Of ancient British art A pleasing monument. Philips.

Our bruised arms hung up for monuments. Shak.

2.

A building, pillar, stone, or the like, erected to preserve the remembrance of a person, event, action, etc.; as, the Washington monument; the Bunker Hill monument. Also, a tomb, with memorial inscriptions.

On your family's old monument Hang mournful epitaphs, and do all rites That appertain unto a burial. Shak.

3.

A stone or other permanent object, serving to indicate a limit or to mark a boundary.

4.

A saying, deed, or example, worthy of record.

Acts and Monuments of these latter and perilous days. Foxe.

Syn. -- Memorial; remembrance; tomb; cenotaph.

 

© Webster 1913.

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