The grand focal point of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) is an impressive architectural feat, stretching along the banks of the River Thames. Originally designed as a Royal Naval Hospital, the ORNC was the work of legendary architect Sir Christopher Wren (whose other masterpieces include St Paul’s Cathedral) and was built on the site of the Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of Henry VIII.
The magnificent classical buildings, with their twin domes, striking colonnaded façade and vast lawns now serve as the dramatic centerpiece of Greenwich and offer a fascinating introduction to the neighborhood for visitors. Highlights of a visit include the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre, where exhibitions are devoted to the ORNC and Greenwich’s maritime heritage; Sir James Thornhill’s spectacular Painted Hall; and the neo-classical style Chapel of St Peter and St Paul. Throughout the year, the ORNC also hosts a number of music performances, exhibitions, workshops and special events.
The Old Royal Naval College is located on the south bank of the River Thames in Greenwich, South London, a short walk from the Cutty Sark. The venue is open daily from 10am and 5pm and is free to enter, although ticket costs may apply for exhibitions, performances and workshops. Free 45-minute guided walking tours are held from Mon to Fri at 1.30pm and 3pm, or Sat and Sun at 11am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 3pm.