Audio File length: 2.10
English / USA Language: English / USA

To properly see the interior of Westminster Abbey you have to go through it twice: first to admire the Gothic architecture built in the 1200s and 1300s, and then again to browse the tombs of the historical figures buried here. Not to mention the numerous works of art in the chapels.

As soon as you enter through the central door, if the crowd of tourists allows, stand still and try to take in the abbey as a whole. You can immediately recognise the French influence in the clustered columns dividing the three naves and in the long series of arches that flank the central nave. Beyond the wide transept, the part behind the main altar is surrounded by a corridor called the "ambulatory" that leads to many chapels. If you would prefer to see some of the typical locally-inspired features in the style known as "Early English", look up at the thin ribs that decorate the vaulted ceilings.

You will be somewhat surprised by the contrast between the vertiginous, 31-meter height of the central nave and the church's rather narrow width of only 12 meters: this trick accentuates the majestic visual impact of the pillars and the large windows higher up, and full advantage is taken of this during the stately ceremonies held at Westminster Abbey.

Firstly, I suggest seeing the sections of the church that commemorate the world wars: Winston Churchill's memorial stone, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and the Memorial for the Fallen in the first chapel on the right. The chapel is dedicated to Saint George, the warrior and patron saint of England, who is famous for having faced and killed a dragon. You'll notice that there are a lot of poppies in the church: in England these blood-red flowers symbolise a tribute to those who have fallen in wars. This tradition dates back to World War I.

I suggest continuing your tour along the right nave, from which you can go on to the cloister and the rest of the abbey complex, which I'll discuss in the next file.


FUN FACT: on the first pillar on the right you can admire an elegant panel painting depicting King Richard II, who rose to the throne in 1365: it is the oldest portrait of an English ruler that has survived until modern times.


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