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Greenwich is only 5 miles by riverboat along the Thames from Tower Bridge, but the sprawling white buildings of the Royal Naval College which greet you on arrival are an immediate clue to this Royal Borough's glorious past. Greenwich is home to some of London's finest museums, many of which are free, and there are many convincing reasons to make it a great option for a day out from central London.
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The views from the top of Greenwich Park are some of London’s finest, with direct views across the river to Canary Wharf and over to central London with The Shard as always, dominating the skyline. The Royal Observatory crowns the top of the hill and provides a magical slice of London history with something to suit even the most scientifically-challenged visitors. This is the site of the invisible but world-famous Prime Meridian which has divided the world into east and west for over 200 years. The meridian is marked by a glass illuminated line – you can’t miss it as there’s a constant queue of people waiting to pose for a photo with one foot in each half of the world. Look out in the evening and you’ll see the meridian marked by a green laser beam.
There is also a Camera Obscura, a small circular room that’s pitch dark and where a clever series of mirrors and lenses projects an image of the world outside onto a table-top. It’s the ultimate spying device and you can ‘scoop up’ an unsuspecting car or bus with your hand.
Back in the daylight it's a short walk down the hill to the Maritime Museum, one of London's finest and the world's largest museum of its type. You can explore Britain's rich history through the many exhibits which have been designed with interactivity in mind. There's plenty to entertain and amuse visitors of all ages – even those who get easily bored.
Take a walk through the grand buildings of the Royal Naval College and visit the Painted Hall, an opulent dining hall and the place where Admiral Lord Nelson's body lay in state. It took over 19 years to complete and the artist Sir James Thornhill was commissioned on a 'pay what you think it's worth' basis; take a look and you'll certainly agree that he deserved to finish the job as a very rich man.
The Cutty Sark is perhaps Greenwich's most iconic landmark. The fastest of tea clippers in the 19th-century, this handsome tall ship has been restored to its former glory after a tragic fire in 2007. You can take a walk under the hull of the ship and learn about the tea trade and the journey from the East back to London, before stepping onto the deck and pretending to be a sailor.
While the museums of Greenwich may draw in the big crowds, modern Greenwich has plenty to offer too. The market is always lively and at the weekends is particularly busy with a fabulous variety of freshly-prepared food from all over the world. Pick up an Ethiopian stew or a Jamaican chicken dish and enjoy it on the grass in the nearby park.
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