We all know about Greenwich Mean Time and how the world relies on it. Yet, it took me by surprise when I realised that so many of my friends had no idea that it is actually located in London.
Location: Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
Price: Free; £5 for guided tours
Suitable for: Anyone who loves arts, history, and architecture
As someone who grew up in a small town, I am no fan of Oxford Street or Piccadilly. Of all places that I visited in London, Greenwich has always been my favourite. The fact that it is the location of the Prime Meridian got me enchanted. As I explored the area further, I found out that Greenwich has so much more than that.
There are several ways to visit Greenwich; the city cruise from Bankside or London Bridge city pier is my favourite.
There are, of course, so many options of ferries available, but I can always go with the most economic one which is operated by the TFL (Transport for London). It costs only £6 for half an hour cruise, and we can pay using the Oyster card. If you want the faster and cheaper mode, DLR underground is always a good option. You can stop at Cutty Sark for Greenwich and explore the area before really stepping your feet to the main venue.
Greenwich, I can say, is full of attractions. The Royal Observatory itself offers the observatory–for sure, planetarium, and the museum, aside from the Prime Meridian itself, which is surrounded by the Greenwich Park. On the way from the DLR station, we can also find the Cutty Sark, the charming Greenwich Market, University of Greenwich and The Old Royal Naval College, National Maritime Museum, and so many more.
I recognised the scene in the first Thor movie when I first visited The Old Royal Naval College. Yet, I did not realise that we could actually enter the buildings, as they are open for public.
The twin buildings have different functions, and both have their own charms. The first one on the left is The Chapel. I entered this building because The Painted Hall on the right was closed due to the reconstruction. I was immersed to the beautiful architecture and lighting just by sitting there.
The Painted Hall, where we can see the epic work of Sir James Thornhill that took almost 20 years to finish since 1708, is a different story. I was in awe when I first visited the Hall that I even forgot to take pictures. I can tell you that The Hall is at least twice as amazing as The Chapel. I highly recommend this place to all arts and cultures enthusiasts since it is truly an awe-inspiring moment to be inside the hall.
As many other painted ceiling works that took decades to finish, it also contains history, stories and philosophies. To comprehend the deeper meaning of the paintings, it is better to take the guided tour when you had a chance to visit.
Good news: The Painted Hall is now open to public during the construction and they let us climb the scaffolding to get a closer look to the painted ceiling. So, if you are in London between the next two years, be sure that you don’t miss this rare chance!