A recent trip to London allowed me to tick off Maritime Greenwich off the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site List. I’ve been to London hundreds of time for work and leisure, but I’ve never made it over to this area of the city. I have certainly been missing out.
Stepping off the Thames hopper boat you are immediately in the area designated as part of the UNESCO site, and you’re welcomed by the sight of the Cutty Sark (one of the last tea clipper ships, and one of the fastest of its time). The ship has recently been reopened after a long period of restoration following a serious fire back in 2007.
This was just one of the main features of the site. If you walk through Greenwich and up the Hill you’ll reach the Royal Observatory and the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Here lies the Prime Meridian of the World – Longitude 0º. Every place on Earth is measured in terms of its distance either east or west from this line. It is essentially a dividing line between the Eastern and Western Hemisphere of the Earth.
Greenwich has been an important area in the country since prehistoric and times, as evidenced by prehistoric burial mounds. The sites at Greenwich were however granted UNESCO status based on four criteria which relate to their important sites of history spanning many many millenia.
- The public and private buildings and the Royal Park at Greenwich form an exceptional ensemble that bears witness to human artistic and creative endeavour of the highest quality.
- Maritime Greenwich bears witness to European architecture at an important stage of its evolution, exemplified by the work of great architects such as Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren who, inspired by developments on the continent of Europe, each shaped the architectural development of subsequent generations, while the Park exemplifies the interaction of man and nature over two centuries.
- The Palace, Royal Naval College, and Royal Park demonstrate the power, patronage, and influence of the Crown in the 17th and 18th centuries and its illustration through the ability to plan and integrate culture and nature into an harmonious whole.
- Greenwich is associated with outstanding architectural and artistic achievements as well as with scientific endeavour of the highest quality through the development of navigation and astronomy at the Royal Observatory, leading to the establishment of the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time as world standards.
- Source: UNESCO
You can find out more about this UNESCO World Heritage site here.