Octagon Tower in Ely, England

Ely Cathedral dates as far back as the seventh century, though the present building is Norman in origin and was completed in 1083. Age isn’t the only amazing feature the church boasts: Architecturally, its crown jewel is the central octagonal tower known, perhaps unoriginally, as the Octagon.

The gorgeous tower was actually born from tragedy rather than practicality. The Octagon, with its enormous internal open space and very unusual wooden “lantern” above it, came about after a...

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