Greenwich Park, located in south-east London, beside the River Thames, is the oldest royal park in London, established in 1433 and now forming part of the Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site. Encompassing 183 acres (74 ha) the park is made up of beautiful sloping grasslands including a deer sanctuary home to a herd of Fallow and Red deer; a traditional early 20th-century style Tea Pavilion; and forested hillsides offering sweeping views across the River Thames to St Paul’s Cathedral and beyond.
Aside from its picturesque walkways and picnic spots, Greenwich Park is most famous for its Royal Observatory, where Greenwich meantime -the center of world time – is kept ticking. Built in 1675 by Sir Christopher Wren, the Observatory was commissioned by King Charles II and became the official Prime Meridian of the world in 1884. Today, the observatory, located atop a hill in the center of the park, not only offers visitors the chance to observe modern astronomy at work, but showcases a fascinating array of early clocks and timekeeping devices, alongside an exhibition on John Harrison, the carpenter/inventor of some of the earliest accurate clocks, taking visitors on a literal journey through time. Also, onsite is a giant 28” refracting telescope (the biggest in the UK) and the Peter Harrison Planetarium – the only public planetarium in London – where Royal Observatory astronomers host star shows using data from NASA telescopes.
Also within the park’s grounds is the hugely popular National Maritime Museum, one of the world’s most thorough collections of maritime objects with everything from giant reconstructed pirate ships to ancient ship logs on display, and the adjourning Queen’s House. A grand 17th century manor house, once home to Charles I’s Queen, Henrietta Maria, the exquisite building is also open to the public and houses the Maritime Museum’s collection of fine art, alongside hosting a series of temporary exhibitions and events.
If you’re traveling to Greenwich Park, head to Greenwich or Blackheath by train from London Bridge, Charing Cross or London Waterloo East, or to Greenwich on the Docklands Light Rail.