Wren is particularly known for his design for St Paul's Cathedral, one of very few cathedrals in England to have been built after the medieval period, and the only Renaissance cathedral in the country. An inscription inside the cathedral, dedicated to the architect, reads, "Si monumentum requiris, circumspice" ("If you seek his memorial, look around you").
Born in 1632 in Wiltshire, Wren was the son of the dean of Windsor. His academic career was centered at Oxford, where he was a member of both Wadham and All Soul's Colleges. In 1657, he became professor of astronomy at Gresham College and four years later he became the Savilian Professor of astronomy at Oxford until his resignation in 1673. Wren was also one of the founding members of the Royal Society, of which he was president from 1680 to 1682.
After the Great Fire of London, he was selected as the architect of St Paul's, the previous building having been destroyed. The design and construction of the new cathedral took from 1675 to 1710, and in the interim Wren designed many other buildings, including over fifty London churches, many of which remain standing. These include St Bride's, St Mary le Bow, St Clement Danes, St Benet Paul's Wharf, and St Stephen Walbrook. In addition, he was involved in the design of the Monument to the Great Fire of London, Royal Greenwich Observatory, Chelsea Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, Marlborough House, the Ashmolean Museum, the Wren Library, and many other distinguished buildings.
Wren died in 1723 and was buried at St Paul's.