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350 Years after London’s Great Fire | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The sculpture, named “London 1666”, has been designed by David Best and is part of the London’s Burning Festival commemorating the Great Fire of London in 1666. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

On the midnight of 2 September 1666, a fire started at the bakery of Thomas in one of London streets, which was the special bakery of King Richard II. The fire damaged many close wooden houses, stores, churches, and governmental buildings.

The city was suffering from plague at that time; people thought that the fire will clean the city from this disease, but it left around 70,000 out of 80,000 people homeless.

London’s fire destroyed third of the city including famous buildings like Saint Paul Church and the Royal Exchange. However, this accident led to the rebuilding of the city with a more organizational and more secured constructional plan by using stones in instead of wood, to avoid such accidents.

On the 350th memory of the fire, London has commemorated the accident by holding a number of celebrations entitled “London is Burning” that included a reenactments of the fire on a wooden sculpture that features houses and buildings built of wood like those that existed in 1666. The sculpture is 120 meters in height, designed by the U.S. David Pest, and will be placed on a boat in the Times River to be burned on Sunday.

Millions will watch the celebration through internet and TV channels; the burning sculpture is composed of 190 minimal building including churches and factories that existed in London in the 17th century.

This celebration has required months of preparations and work, in which volunteers participated from different regions in the capital; the commemoration included a number of exhibitions and touristic tours in the fire region.

From its part, London Museum has dedicated a special page that features information and historical drawings of London before and after the fire. The museum also had a number of pieces that features the history of the city during the fire.

The Royal Mail in the U.K. has launched three new post stamps designed like comic books stories, featuring the most important details of the fire in addition to a coin that holds an engrave of it.