Greenwich. Where time begins
Far enough from the centre to retain a distinct personality of its own, Greenwich is easy to reach from elsewhere in London by Tube, Train, DLR and Clipper fast ferry service.
Offering maritime history, a royal park, the original Royal Observatory and the Cutty Sark amongst its attractions, Greenwich is worth a full-day excursion, with a tempting choice of places to eat and drink.
This is a destination that attracts millions of visitors each year, a UNESCO world heritage site that is much more than just an ordinary day out. Don’t forget your camera, whatever you do! Here’s what the Holiday Taxis team think are some of the unique things Greenwich has to offer.
The Royal Observatory Complex, where the 0° meridian line runs, is sited at the top of the nearest good-sized hill to where its regal patrons lived in central London. The majority of visitors will want their photograph taken as they stand astride the line, with one foot in each hemisphere. In addition, it offers magnificent views across a huge swathe of the metropolis and it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful and intriguing features of this ancient royal hunting ground.
The museums, the Queen’s House, the Cutty Sark and the majority of the food and drink outlets are down at river level and are also an essential part of most visitors’ plans. This means, no matter how you arrive in Greenwich or where you begin your visit, there will be a steep hill to contend with at some point.
Measuring the world, mapping the skies
Although the Royal Observatory continues as a functioning research establishment, it moved out from under London’s dirty air many years ago, leaving behind a beautiful collection of buildings sprinkled elegantly along the ridge overlooking the river. Today the buildings serve as museums and are home to London’s only planetarium. The story of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) is clearly laid out and explained. The Time and Longitude gallery give a detailed and intricate insight into the development of clocks accurate enough to permit the precise calculation of Longitude for the first time.
The Time and Longitude gallery give a detailed and intricate insight into the development of clocks accurate enough to permit the precise calculation of Longitude for the first time.
The best natural view of London
Standing just outside the complex is a statue of General Wolfe. His plinth gives you an unrivalled view of the city. With the park laid out before you like a lawn coloured picnic tablecloth, the beautiful architecture of the Royal Greenwich riverside sparkles even in the middle of a London winter’s day. Painted most notably by J.M.W. Turner, the view makes a perfect backdrop for a picnic lunch or contemplative ice cream.
The river Thames curls just beyond, holding the Canary Wharf business district in its grasp, with the rest of London’s iconic architecture just to the left as you look down the hillside. New triumphs such as the Shard, the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater loom over more mature masterpieces including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Great Fire of London Monument. To the right of the park, you’ll see the huge O2 arena and the Emirates airline cable car crossing the river.