GREENWICH…The perfect London Walk!

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When I first travelled to London last year I asked a friend where to take a day trip. “Greenwich,” she replied. “As in Greenwich Mean Time?” I asked. “Yep.” “Where is that?” I asked her. “East,” she said. “Like in Kent?” I asked. “Haha, no, like in London,” she laughed. In all my years of learning about longitude and prime meridians, I had never realized that Greenwich was an actual place and that said place was in London.

But it is, and as I discovered, it is well worth a visit. In fact, the apartment rented for our holiday was right in Greenwich at Cutty Sark tube station. Taking advantage of this and the sunny weather, I decided to visit our neighbourhood.

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The Cutty Sark is a 19th century clipper ship located on the south bank of the River Thames in Maritime Greenwich, south east London, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts countless London tourists to Greenwich each year. The Cutty Sark is one of the most popular London attractions with nautically minded visitors to the city.

The Cutty Sark is the world’s last remaining tea clipper. Built in 1869, this Victorian treasure has been open to the public as a museum ship since 1954. The Cutty Sark was nearly destroyed by fire in 2007 but re-opened in 2012, fully restored. A prominent merchant vessel, the Cutty Sark played a crucial role in Britain‘s position at the forefront of international trade in the nineteenth century.

The Cutty Sark is located just a short walk from the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park. I recommend everyone to dedicate a whole day during their visit to the city to enjoy each of these Greenwich delights.

I toured the Cutty Sark and I learned all about the ship’s involvement in the tea and wool trades, and got a peek into the world of the sailors that lived on board.  Its tall masts rose high into the sky and its hull was suspended in a glass sea.

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From the Cutty Sark I walked over to the Old Royal Naval College, a beautiful double-domed masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren (of St Paul’s Cathedral fame). The Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich is one of the most extensive groups of public buildings in the baroque style in Britain. Inside the Painted Hall were sumptuous interiors replete with color and gilding on every imaginable surface.

 

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Across the street and over the lawn sat the Queen’s House, a stunning example of Palladian architecture by Inigo Jones. Inside were the famous Tulip Stairs, a snail shell-shaped spiral all done in black and white. The house was home to several collections of maritime art, one of which included J.M.W. Turner’s largest oil painting, The Battle of Trafalgar.

The Queen’s House was commissioned by Anne of Denmark, wife of James I (reigned 1603–25). James was often at the Tudor Palace of Greenwich, where the Old Royal Naval College now stands – it was as important a residence of the early Stuart dynasty as it had been for the Tudors. Traditionally he is said to have given the manor of Greenwich to Anne in apology for having sworn at her in public, after she accidentally shot one of his favourite dogs while hunting in 1614.

Down a colonnaded walkway was the National Maritime Museum, the world’s largest maritime museum, filled with inspirational stories of discovery and adventure at sea, a grand space with a variety of galleries showcasing everything from historic figureheads to maritime history in different regions of the world. It even had one of Nelson’s original military jackets on display.

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Up the hill from the museum is the Greenwich Royal Observatory, home of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time. It is also home to London‘s only planetarium, the Harrison timekeepers and the UK’s largest refracting telescope. I explored several galleries full of telescopes, clocks, and historical gadgets designed to measure longitude at sea.

After a full day of sightseeing in Greenwich, I was exhausted. But a reward came in the form of the best view in London, a panoramic scene of the beautiful park and museums below. Remembering that one of the best ways to get to the city centre from here was by boat, I hopped on the Thames Clipper at Greenwich Pier and settled in for a cruise down the river. 45 minutes and some great sightseeing, later I got off at Embankment Pier and found myself face-to-keel with The Big-Ben.

 I will tell you about the cruise in another post…next on my blog!

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