Five Reasons To Visit Greenwich…and Maybe Skip the London Eye

Queen'sHouse
Queen’s House

How many of you have been to Greenwich? Probably not many. This Royal Borough of London is often overlooked by tourists because it is considered too far from the center, or simply because it’s not thought worthy of a visit. Here are five reasons that will make you change your mind:

1-Greenwich can be easily reached from central london using the DLR. Just get off at Island Garden for a breathtaking view of the Royal Hospital, the Cutty Sark and the Queen’s House. The view is nearly unchanged in over 250 years and was famously depicted in the picture by Canaletto. From here you can walk across the river via the Greenwich foot tunnel, which crosses beneath the Thames; taking you to the other side in no time.

Canaletto. 'A View of Greenwich from the River'  (Tate, London)
Canaletto. ‘A View of Greenwich from the River’ (Tate, London)

2-Greenwich was as important as the Tower of London and Hampton Court when it came to Royal Residences. In the winter the court moved between its standing houses Greenwich, Whitehall, Richmond, Hampton Court and Windsor. Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth 1 were born in Greenwich, and also hosted the marriage of Henry VIII to both Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves. While Greenwich’s Tudor palace is gone, the Stuarts built anew there with the magnificent Queen’s House.

London Cutty Shark
Cutty SharkAitor Escauriaza / Foter / CC BY

3-The Cutty Sark is amazing. After years of extremely expensive restoration, the Cutty Sark is now open to the public. This unique example of tea clipper is set on a complex structure that makes it “float” in a glass wave. The experience of walking underneath the ship without being crushed by it is breathtaking. Visiting the ship and learning about its fascinating role in the history of trade is highly entertaining for grownups and kids alike

4-The Queen’s house. England’s first Classical building, finished in 1638, it was designed by Inigo Jones, following study in Italy of Roman and Renaissance architecture. The house can be visited for free and anyone with an interest in architecture should be sure to see it – you will not be disappointed. The tulip staircase and the great hall are the true highlights of the palace. By tradition it is said that James I gave the house to his wife, in recompense for swearing at her in public after she accidentally shot one of his favorite dogs.

5-The Observatory and the Meridian. Royal Observatory was founded by Charles II in 1675 and by international agreement, each new day, year, and millennium starts there. This alone should be enough to pay this place a visit, but if not, the fascinating history of how longitude at sea was determined should do the trick, and all the key elements of that story can be found here. In 1714 the Board of Longitude was set up. A prize of £20,000 was offered for the answer (= £2m today) to find longitude at sea. The prize would be awarded if timekeeping remained accurate within 2 minutes on a journey across the Atlantic. The winner was a clockmaker, John Harrison. All the prototypes of his clocks are visible in the Observatory in Greenwich.

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