Greenwich

Greenwich
The Home of Time
Greenwich

Greenwich, the place where hemispheres meet and royal heritage combines with contemporary architecture. It’s home to a World Heritage Site, The O2 arena, Britain’s only urban cable car, London’s prettiest royal park and the Prime Meridian of the World - longitude zero.


Get here in 20 minutes by Docklands Light Railway and wander through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium, or fly 90m high on the Emirates Air Line into a world class show at The O2 arena.


Whatever your interest there’s something you’ll love - fabulous baroque artistry in the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College, designer-maker arts and crafts in Greenwich Market, and the beautifully conserved Cutty Sark, the fastest ship of her age. Explore Britain’s momentous naval history at the National Maritime Museum and enjoy the views in a riverside pub.

Speed down the river in a streamlined catamaran or cruise through London’s landmarks to Greenwich, the mighty Thames Barrier and the historic Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.
There’s too much to see in just one day so book into a luxurious local hotel or comfortable B&B and stay a while – Greenwich is always worth a little extra time!

The Royal Observatory
Everywhere on earth is measured from here
Royal Observatory

Charles II founded the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park in 1675 to improve navigation at sea and find out how to measure longitude. Longitude is your exact position east and west and without knowing how to measure it you can't have any accurate idea of where you are.

This is a major problem, epecially on long ocean journeys when you might not get any visual clues for weeks at a time. The key to measuring longitude was eventually discovered by John Harrison, who understood that it relied on super-accurate timekeeping at sea. You can see the clocks he developed at the Royal Observatory (they are in the Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibition until 4/1/15) and stand astride the dividing point between east and west - the Meridian line

There's lots more to see as well, including a 4.5 billion year old meteorite and the Great Equatorial Telescope, the largest of it's kind in the UK - it's enormous! The Royal Observatory is open every day and you can see prices and opening times here.

The Planetarium
Seeing stars
Peter Harrison Planetarium

The Peter Harrison Planetarium at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich is now London’s only planetarium, and features state-of-the-art HD projection technology, visualisations based on real scientific data and real astronomers.

The Royal Observatory say: "Think of a planetarium as a tour bus of the Universe taking you on amazing journeys to explore and experience the wonders of the night sky.

Combining real images from spacecraft and telescopes with advanced CGI, all projected onto a fully immersive dome, the Planetarium can fly you into the heart of the Sun, transport you to distant galaxies, show you the birth of a star or land you on Mars!"

It's very exciting! There are different shows every day and special shows for kids. Some of the shows also have live narration from real-life astronomers who work at the Royal Observatory. See what's on and when, plus prices, here.

National Maritime Museum
Anchors away!
National Maritime Museum

Have you ever tried to steer a boat through the buoys in New York harbour? Have you ever seen a giant ship in a bottle? How about the coat that Lord Nelson was wearing on the day he died on board HMS Victory, have you seen that?

Well, now's your chance. Excited? You should be, because you can do all those things, and much more besides, at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and it's absolutely free to get in.

It's one of the largest maritime museums in the world and has nearly two and a half million objects in its collections. The Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery is where Nelsons bullet-holed jacket is displayed, along with an outstanding exhibition exploring the life of an 18th century sailor in the Royal Navy.

Definitely try the Ship Simulator, you could find yourself at the helm of a fishing boat, following a helicopter rescue mission to a sinking vessel, navigating a frigate into position off Sydney shores or steering a P&O ferry into port in Dover.

And the Ship in a Bottle is outside the Sammy Ofer Wing looking out into Greenwich Park. It was originally designed, by Yinka Shonibare, for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square and sailed into Greenwich after that. It's a great way to start or finish your visit to one of the greatest museums in the world. Click here for opening times.

Queen's House
A king's apology
Queen's House

The Queen's House is probably the only important building in the UK, or anywhere else, for that matter, that was built because of a bit of a row.

James I had a bit of a tantrum when the queen, Anne of Denmark, accidentally shot his favourite dog when they were out hunting in 1614. James was so upset that he swore at Anne in public. Not kingly behaviour, I think you'll agree. As an apology, he gave her the Manor of Greenwich.

Anne commisioned Inigo Jones, who began his career as a theatre designer, to design a pavilion that she could use as a private retreat. Jones had just spent a few years in Italy studying architecture and had admired the beautiful Roman and Renaissance architecture.

He designed the Queen's House very much in that clean, classical style. The building's design was also influenced by Andrea Palladio, an Italian architect who took his own influences from the classical style.

The House is the first classical villa to be built in this country and very different from the Tudor and Gothic styles which came before. The Great Hall is a perfect cube withy a black and white marbled floor. It's very good looking and you can see it for free, along with some of the National Maritime Museum's art collection which hang in the other rooms.

The house is also unusual for being built over what was the Greenwich to Woolwich Road. This was so Anne could get into the old Tudor palace gardens on one side and Greenwich Park on the other. She never got to live there - she died in 1619, but her accidental shot left this beautiful house for us to visit nearly 400 years later. Click here for opening times.

Cutty Sark
The world's last surviving tea clipper
Cutty Sark

You can get a real sensation of what it must have been like to go to sea in the great age of sail when you step aboard the fabulous Cutty Sark.

She's the very last remaining tea clipper and, in her day, was one of the fastest ships on the all-important tea runs from China. If you stand at the prow you can imagine yourself thundering around the Cape of Good Hope on the way from Shanghai to London. During the middle years of the 19th century, clipper ships would compete with each other to see who could get the first crop of fresh tea back to the UK and Cutty Sark was one of them.

The ship has been in Greenwich since 1954 and went through a period of careful conservation between 2007 and 2012 during which a fire broke out on board. The fire looked shocking but didn't do as much damge as had been feared because all the rigging and deck furniture had already been taken away for renewal. She has been raised three meters which means you can walk underneath her sparkling hull - you should definitely go and visit! Click here for opening times and admission prices.

Old Royal Naval College
Wren’s riverside masterpiece
Old Royal Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College on the banks of the river Thames at Greenwich started life as the Royal Hospital for Seamen. It was built to provide a retirement home for veteran sailors after Queen Mary II was inspired to provide a refuge for some of the wounded sailors she saw returning from battle at sea.

It was laid out by Sir Christopher Wren on the site of the old Tudor Palace where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born, but his initial plans were vetoed by the Queen on the grounds that they blocked her view from the Queen's House. What originally was intended to be a single dome, a bit like St Paul's cathedral, was split in to the two domes that you can see when you visit. 

The Royal Navy took over the site in 1873 and the Royal Naval College remained a training facility for officers for the next 124 years. These days, the site is home to the University of Greenwich and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. You can wander round the grounds and visit the beautiful Painted Hall and baroque Chapel of St Peter and St Paul - they're both amazing, and they're both free!

And don't forget to visit the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre, a permanent exhibition where you can explore over 500 years of history, shop for unique gifts and stop for a quick bite to eat at The Old Brewery.

Greenwich Market
A London favourite
Greenwich Market

Ask a Londoner what they're favourite place to visit at the weekend is and they're almost certain to come up with Greenwich Market. Everyone loves the mix of arts and crafts, vintage clothes, hats, cards, antiques and collectables and all sorts of other fantastic stuff. That's just the stalls, of course, the covered Market is also lined with boutiques and small independent shops, galleries and places to eat and drink.

Somewhere this good isn't just for weekends! The Market is open seven days a week until Christmas and then every day except Mondays, so take an afternoon off work and have a look at all the lovely sparkly stalls when there aren't quite so many people around.

You can also dig in to some of the best street food ever with recipes and ingredients on offer from all over the world. Greenwich Market started life as a food market back in the 1700s and today's food stalls are keeping up that tradition. Shop, eat, drink - surely that's three of your five a day? Greenwich Market is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00am - 5.30pm. See you there!

The Fan Museum
Something special for fans of fans
The Fan Museum

It's the only one of its kind in the country and it's one of the loveliest and most unusual museums in the world. The Fan Museum has a collection of over 4,000 fans and many of them are out on display in the two Georgian house that make up the museum. Their fans date back to the 11th century and cover all sorts of genres and styles.

There are changing exhibitions themed around events and fashions and a beautiful Orangery where you can have afternoon tea on Tuesday and Sunday afternoons. It's all very civilised.

Greenwich Park
A Royal park
Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is as gorgeous today as it was when Henry VIII enclosed the land around 500 years ago. In those early years it would have been unwise to go for a lovely autumn stroll or a bit of summer sun-bathing because you ran the risk of being trampled by Henry and his court as they charged through the landscape hunting deer.

Nowadays, of course, there's no chance of getting trampled, and it's the perfect place for a stroll no matter what the season. The deer have their own enclosure and there are rose, herb and flower gardens, a bandstand, the longest herbaceous border in London and the most compact Roman remains you're likely to see. 

There's also an enormous children's playground where you can let the tinies run around and exhaust themselves. Make sure you climb the hill to the Royal Observatory and have a look at the view back across Docklands, the City and the rest of central London. It's beautiful.

The Laban Building
Modern architecture and contemporary dance
Laban Building

The Laban building is an extraordinary and exciting building which won the Stirling architecture award in 2006. Its architects were Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed Tate Modern on the South Bank. It's the base for the dance contingent of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance - the musicians are based at the Old Royal Naval College. 

Just outside Greenwich town centre over Deptford Creek it's well worth the walk to see such an outstanding structure.

Greenwich Dance
Dance yourself dizzy
Greenwich Dance

Greenwich Dance is the home of dance in South East London. It's ann extraordinary meeting place for artists, audiences and communities to watch and take part in all sorts of different forms of dance. They're based in the old Borough Halls, in the centre of Greenwich.

There are regular evening cabarets and afternoon tea dances as well as performances from some of the most cutting edge performers in contemporary dance. And you can also join in at regular classes aimed at all levels (or depths!) of abilities.

Greenwich Theatre
One of London's finest off-West End theatres
Greenwich Theatre

Greenwich Theatre started life as a music hall way back in the 1870s. It went through various guises including becoming a cinema in 1924 until it was hit by a bomb during the Second World War and closed. The theatre re-opened, after a successful local campaign, in 1969 and is now one of the most exciting theatre venues in London.

The theatre now presents the annual Greenwich Children's Theatre Festival every April, co-produces the annual Greenwich World Cultural Festival with Greenwich Dance, and produces a free outdoor summer show. They also stage what is definitely in the running for the best Pantomime in London, a show that's incredibly popular with residents and a must for visitors!

St Alfege church
100 years of religious celebration
St Alfege church

There's been a church in the middle of Greenwich, on the same piece of ground, for over a thousand years. St Alfege, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was martyred here after being abducted by Vikings in 1012. 

The current church is only the third to have been built on the site and has been here nearly 300 years. It was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and replaced the medieval church which had collapsed.

The church is well known for its annual Advent Windows event, when 24 local residents decorate their windows around a theme and reveal them one day at a time throughout Advent. It's very inspiring.

Clocktower Market
Antiques and collectables
Clocktower Market

For an outstanding afternoon of old school quirkiness and proper flea-market shopping, you definitely can't beat Clocktower Market in Greenwich High Road. There are fifty stalls selling antiques, art, badges, bags, books,
bric a brac, ceramics, vintage clothing, crafts, furniture, gramophones, jewellery, photographs, records and vintage and craft items.

It's a perfect part of a day out in Greenwich or even a weekend! Clocktower Market is open every weekend and Bank Holiday from 10.00am to 5.00pm.

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