Historic Royal Palaces in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, have completed a major conservation project which has seen the Great Pagoda returned to its 18th-century splendour and re-opened to the public as a permanent exhibition.
Climb the 253 steps to the top of the Great Pagoda and marvel at spectacular views across London. As you climb, learn why the Pagoda was built and how the royal family used this unique building in the 18th century.
- The Great Pagoda is a challenging climb of 253 steps.
- Please do not attempt the climb if you have any health conditions you feel may be made worse by the experience.
- Children under 5 years old are not permitted above the ground floor due to safety restrictions.
- In order to preserve the historic fabric of the building, large bags* may not be brought inside.
- Pagoda tickets are only valid for the date and time you have selected. This is due to the limited capacity of the building.
*Bags larger than standard aircraft carry-on size.
Private Pagoda tours
Enquire about a private tour of the Pagoda here.
The history of the Pagoda
The Great Pagoda was designed in the 18th century by English architect Sir William Chambers for the royal family. Chambers visited China twice and he was inspired by the buildings he saw; his designs for the Great Pagoda were influenced by prints he had seen there of the famous Porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing.
The Great Pagoda was the largest and most ambitious building in a 'royal circuit' of 16 structures displaying architectural styles from around the world built in the royal garden at Kew.
Once completed in 1762, the 163ft tall building was so exotic that a suspicious public were unconvinced it would remain standing.
Pagodas are revered in traditional Chinese culture as the repository of relics or sacred writings and as place for contemplation. The Kew Pagoda was inspired by the porcelain Pagoda at Nanjing — one of the wonders of the medieval world — and is not designed as a religious monument; rather it was intended to be a window for the British people into Chinese culture.
The Great Pagoda at Kew was originally far more colourful than it is today, and was once adorned with 80 'iridescent' wooden dragons, which were removed in 1784 when repairs were undertaken to the building's roof.
None of the 80 dragons appear to have survived, beginning a 200 year hunt to rediscover and replace them. Historic Royal Palaces has restored the dragons to the Pagoda once more, as part of this major conservation project.Find out how we brought dragons back to Kew
The most intimate of our six royal palaces, Kew was built as a private house in 1631 and used by the royal family between 1729 and 1818. These gifts and souvenirs are all inspired by Kew Palace.
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