Welcome to Greenwich
There are zillion things we can say about the borough of Greenwich. This truly fascinating place, on the banks of the River Thames, has so much to offer. You can easily find yourself lost in its unique mixture of rich history, cultural value, royal heritage, modern architecture, classical shapes and colourful stalls. The district’s geography offers untamed nature, sweeping views, straight out of a fairytale landmarks and artworks coming in many different forms.
It’s nearly impossible to put its charm into words, shabbily describing its dazzling atmosphere. That’s why this time our list will look a bit different – instead sophisticated phrases, we offer you some dry facts. As they say – when the facts speak, the Gods are silent. Aside from telling you about the landmarks, we can also help you by cleaning your residence in Greenwich should you ever give us the chance.
You can Get There by Boat
You can easily skip the well-known train or the dull tube and start with style your grand tour through Greenwich’s grace and glory. Enjoy stunning views and avoid the crowd by getting there with a riverboat. How long would it take you may wonder – well it depends because you can choose from more than one starting point or in this case pier. From London Eye Pier, the trip will be within 40 minutes and about 25 minutes from London Bridge Pier. It will only take 20 minutes from Tower Pier. From Westminster pier, you’ll get in one hour and from St Katharine Docks within 20 to 30 minutes.
The Nonpareil Cutty Sark
Once you find yourself on solid ground, there’s more to learn about what the river can give you. Climb aboard Cutty Sark – the only tea clipper left in the whole world. The legendary sole-surviving ship headed to its first sail in the 19th century. At that time Cutty Sark amazed the sailors of every major world port, it left behind, with its record-breaking speed. His purpose – to bring tea from the faraway land of China. Don’t cause anarchy in the UK and spend some time at Cutty Sark café. Can you imagine a location more perfect than this for a moment of pleasure with a cup of afternoon tea made of the finest leaves?
The Old Royal Naval College
The Old Royal Naval College is not only the architectural centrepiece (masterpiece) of Maritime Greenwich, but is a part of the World Heritage Site as well. The Former Palace of Placentia is described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of "outstanding universal value" and reckoned to be the "finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles".
The Untamed Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park is considered to be the most historic among London’s eight Royal Parks. Centuries ago, nowadays picnic area was used as a royal hunting ground. Rumours have it that a family of deer, which are among the many wild park’s residents, is descended from Henry VIII’s original herd.
The Millennium Dome
The O2 – do we need to say more?! This has become the easiest way to put an amazing entertainment venue in just two letters. The starters from The Dome’s rich menu include: a shopping venue, offering a huge selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars; the largest multiplex cinemas in South England, where you can experience movies on a whole new level, while staring into the first ever 270 degree screen in the UK; the Oxygen freejumping trampoline park and many other activities that your kids will love. Let’s just mention that you can book a climb over the roof and have a fancy dinner, while hanging from the height of 100ft - definitely a dish to remember for a lifetime, if you don’t fade, of course…. Leaving London in the sky and all of the above aside, it’s time to focus on some facts:
Originally, the Millennium Dome used to house the Millennium Experience, a major exhibition, celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. We promise not to use the m-word any further, however, the expo was a complete failure. Due to political controversy (and probably poor marketing skills), the Dome didn’t gain attention, visitors or money. Long story short – since there was no chance of returning the initial investment, the huge and expensive (£1.34 billion in 2019 pounds) closed area, ended up with a 999-year lease for the Dome and its surrounding land, which was signed between the Meridian Delta, the government and the English Partnerships.
Now it’s the time to mention that the government only gets a certain percentage of profits because the American worldwide sporting and music entertainment presenter AEG develops and operates O2. Their management is pretty much perfect though – anyone who is anyone in the ever-changing world of music and fame has been on the O2’s stage (or at least wants to be invited there). Among the artists that hosted a show here are Bon Jovi, Adele, Madonna, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Celine Dion, Spice Girls, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy, Sir Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, and the list goes on and on and on…
The Prime Meridian
Every place on Earth is measured in terms of its distance East or West from the Greenwich Meridian. The line itself divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth, just as the Equator divides the northern and southern hemispheres. Here is where our visit back to the geography class finishes and the travel through time and space starts.
Let’s spice things up with a bit of history first. A prime meridian, based at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich was established by Sir George Airy in 1851. The prime meridian is the line of 0 longitude, the starting point for measuring distance both east and west around the Earth. This imaginable line is arbitrary though, so basically it could be chosen to be anywhere. There were a bunch of countries, which published maps with different options for a 0 longitude. France used its own map where the line was running through Paris. Cartographers in China wouldn't agree with that, so they published maps with 0 longitude running through Beijing. Even different parts of the same country published materials, based on local meridians. With so many different imaginable lines measuring the same thing, the navigation was nearly impossible. Finally, thanks to the common sense, one line overcame them all.
At an international convention called by U.S. President Chester Arthur in 1884, representatives from 25 countries agreed to pick a single, standard meridian. They chose the meridian passing through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. Even though we don't have the official records of the meeting and can't tell the exact reason why London won the honour, the thing to remember is that on this day the Greenwich Meridian became the international standard for the prime meridian. Nowadays you have the chance to actually step on the Prime Meridian, being on two halves of the Earth at the same time.
The 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, visualizations based on real scientific data and real astronomers. You can really see beyond the surface of our beloved pale, blue dot called Earth and find yourself lost in space. The things you’re about to see are not made in a Hollywood basement or by a cheeky youngster with Photoshop skills – the planetarium offers you real images from spacecraft and telescopes with advanced resolution.
Taste the Beer
Being in business since 1691, the parkside Plume of Feathers is the oldest pub in Greenwich. If its walls could talk, by now we would have written our first bestseller and since the fame and fortune don’t seem to be gained so easily we can at least join you for a pint of yeast-fermented malt flavoured with hops. Cheers! And while we’re still talking about beer, you can enjoy a Brewery Tour through Greenwich. Arguably, some of the locals claim that before taking over the world, the Brewery beer was born in this very place. Visitors can disagree, but they won’t judge, especially after tasting some of the finest London ale at the pub.
Under the Water Surface and Above the River of Thames
You can not only sail along the Thames, but you can also go under the river and fly over the water. It looks like anything is possible in Greenwich. Let’s start with under – you can literally walk underwater using the century-old tunnel, linking Greenwich with the “Isle of Dogs”, Tower Hamlets on the north. The connection between the north and south banks of the river of Thames was built by manpower alone in the early 1900s. The tunnel is around 1,200 feet long and 50 feet deep. Now let’s spread our wings. The UK's only urban cable car can fly you over the bright waters, offering 360-degree views of the city, while uplifting you ninety meters high. Our advice is to take the extended Night Flight – the view that the city of London has to offer with the falling of the night is something that deserves to be shared not only like an Instagram post.
The Perfect Tour for Film Fanatics
Bring popcorn and Coke, it’s time to rewatch some movies. According to IMDb (international movie database), nearly 70 movies were shot in the borough. Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich is filmed more times than we can count. When you went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Les Misérables, Cinderella, Thor: The Dark World, Skyfall or Dorian Gray, you were actually looking straight at Greenwich’s stunning beauty. There’s a whole guided tour, which will take you to the exact spots, where the cameras, the lighting and the director’s chairs used to stand, for some iconic movies and high-grossing blockbusters.
As we said, the only way to get to know Greenwich is simply to be in Greenwich… And if you wonder, the red Time Ball on Flamsteed House has a strict schedule. Since 1833, at 12:55 it rises halfway up on its mast. At 12.58 the red ball rises all the way to the topmast. It drops precisely at 1 p.m. each day. So don’t look the other way or you’ll miss the signal. Our list ends up here, but you can always leave a signal in the comment section below.
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