"The maritime history of London." Greenwich by planxty
Greenwich Travel Guide: 260 reviews and 650 photos
I have just read my original introduction to Greenwich which was written in my extremely early VT days and it was frankly abysmal so high time I updated it properly.
Firstly, why have I constructed a seperate Greenwich page when most visitors merely regard it as a part of London? Indeed it is, the postcode of most of it being SE10which puts it firmly in the capital. If you are not aware, any UK postcodes with the first letters E, SE, N, NW, SW, WC or EC are the main area of London before you get further into the suburbs. Well, the main reason is that I like my tips to be in the correct places even though that is sometimes difficult with the VT database but I still like to try.
Whilst Greenwich is certainly part of the capital it is, like many other places, a small village that has been subsumed into the metropolis. It has a huge history of Royalty, scientific endeavour and particularly maritime matters. Going further back, there have evenbeen Roman remains found in the Park but it is the sea that is the main theme of Greenwich. So much so, in fact, that Maritime Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so.
In medieaval times, Greenwich was a great centre of the Royal family and two of England's arguably most famous monarchs, Henry VIII and Elizabeth1 were both born in the Palace by the river. This building was subesquently restored by Sir Christopher Wren and converted to a Hospital for Sailors. In time it became a Naval College (now situated in Dartmouth, Devon) and you may wander round taking in the wonders of the architecture.
Other things you may wish to visit are the famous Cutty Sark tea clipper, now restored after a fire a few years ago, the old covered market and the wonderful National Maritime Museum.
Closely allied with sailing and navigation was astronomy as it is impossible to navigate accurately without knowing longitude. This field of scientific enterprise is well-represented here, indeed it was the centre of world astronomy for many years. Home to the Royal Observatory which housed such luminaries as Flamsteed and Halle (he of the comet fame) were Astronomers Royal here. It is from here that we get terms like Greenwich Mean Time and the Greenwich Meridian from which all longitudes in the world are calculated.
More recently, the Royal Park was the site of the equestian events at eh London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. This actually accounts for the devastation you can see in the image here which was taken in December 2012. Apparently the Olympic authorities, as part of the deal to use the Park, agreed to do a lot of work afterwards to make it even better than it was.
I love Greenwich. Bearing in mind it's proximity to the centre and decent transport links, it really should be on every visitors list. It is undoubtedly touristy, but there are still plenty of things to do and places to go, and it certainly fulfils my almost insatiable appetite for the history of London.
- Pros:Massive amount of history in a lovely riverside setting.
- Cons:Can get very over-crowded at peak tourist times.
- In a nutshell:If you're in London, go there.
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