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3. The National Maritime Museum

I am sure that you will not be bored with a visit to the National Maritime Museum here 😊 as it features popular artworks and space-photography that will capture your interest from the time you walk-in as it did mine, on this visit. It is a perfect place to visit after the Queens House as it is located next to the House. It is a place where you can stroll at leisure and take a breather while your kids or grand-kids are entertained with the many activities and objects that are showcased here. It is an interesting venue for both kids and adults, and they will be intrigued and entertained, for sure.

The National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum

This maritime museum is the largest in the UK and is possibly also the largest of its kind in the world.  This iconic building is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.  It currently features The World’s Best Space Photography with amazing space photos and it is a ticketed event. Additionally, I was particularly drawn to the following five main attractions:

  • Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle – this is a replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory in a bottle by Yinka Shonibare, MBE and is located just outside the Maritime Museum building. This is a popular piece of artwork, scaled-down to the very detail of the Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory in which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805;

    Nelson's Ship in a Bottle
    The intricate details of Nelson’s Ship – showcased in a Bottle
  • Figure Head Collection – this is a collection of more than 230 figureheads which reflects ornamental carvings from late 17th century and how it developed through the centuries until early 20th century;

    Ship's Figure Head Collection
    Some of the Ship’s Figure Head Collection
  • The Opium Pipe in the Traders Gallery – tells a story of British history which spans over 250 years. The Company’s trading patterns changed in the late 1700’s. By this time, it made most of its money from the trade in China tea, as tea drinking became popular in Britain. The Traders Gallery depicts the stories of what led to the first and second Opium Wars with China and how the East India Company shaped the trade between Britain and Asia.
  • The original Opium Pipe
    The original Opium Pipe
  • The stories in the gallery continues to illustrate the rise and fall of this majestic East India Company, the end of the Company that changed the world, the effect of its lasting legacies which is felt even today.

I found my visit here rather enjoyable probably because I was not as distracted as I was when on my first visit with my kids. I especially liked the Opium Pipe in the Traders Gallery. It is something which I recall seeing but now I noted its beautiful and intricate details – made of ivory and terracotta.

  • On the second floor, there is a large Great Map of the World drawn on the floor which makes a nice playground for children from age 1 to 99!

    The Great Map
    The Great Map of the World printed on the floor. Makes a nice playground for kids while parents can enjoy their coffee and snacks.
  • Prince Frederick’s Barge

This colourful barge was designed by William Kent, built by John Hall and completed with carved decorations by James Richards between 1731 and 1732. It has a flat mid-section to accommodate the cabin. It was rowed by 21 oarsmen and steered by a barge-master. It is gilded with small square sheets of 22-carat gold leaf applied over a thin layer of glue.

The barge enhanced the royal status of Prince Frederick and the carved decorations symbolised his position as the heir to the British throne and suggest the maritime power of the nation.

 

There are a number of scheduled shows and events that takes place daily which you can check on the day of your visit at the reception or you can ask any of the tour guides there who are extremely helpful. I would highly recommend that you visit this Maritime Museum as it is educational for kids and as for adults, it brings us back in time and reflect on the World’s history. No matter how you see it,  it is good to fit this into your itinerary for completeness as part of a nice little day trip!

 

Summary of Experiences at the National Maritime Museum

1. Possibly the largest of its kind in the world 

2. Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle

3. Figurehead Collection 

4. The Traders Gallery – British history over 250 years

5. Map of the World – various continents

6. Prince Frederick’s Barge

7. Exhibitions – at the moment it is on “Space Photography”

 

Useful information:

Opening hours:  10:00 – 17:00

Admission: Free

Toilets and baby-changing facilities are accessible.

The Great Smoky Mountains Natural Park – 10 Reasons to Visit this Ancient Wonder.

There are no real words to describe this place, called The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was established in 1934 and has been described as a living mountain range as it is continuously shaped by the forces of nature – wind, water and erosion. The natural beauty of the mountains, the tranquillity of the woods and the wildlife here makes this, one of the most visited natural parks in America, drawing over 200,000 visitors per year – a Park that continues to ‘live’ in a time capsule of the 1800s.

The Foothills Parkway

The Foothills Parkway gives you easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from a road corridor that is outside the Park, providing you of magnificent views.

Foothills Parkway
Foothills Parkway – the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains Natural Park

Our visit here was before the New Leg of the Parkway was open, in early autumn. (The New Leg takes you from Townsend, TN, to Wears Valley, with a short ride into Pigeon Forge, TN, and Gatlinburg, TN – from US 129 to US 321 in Walland).

 

Crisscrossing of the Ancient Mountains is a sight to behold… 

The beauty of the mountains comes through as you drive up…when you see, as far as you can, ridge upon ridge of endless forest. It was one of the prettiest sights, that I had ever witnessed – the crisscrossing of the mountains in the distance as it blends into the blues of the skies, which makes it particularly picturesque.

The Great Smoky Mountains
The beauty of the mountains comes through as you drive up…when you see, as far as you can, ridge upon ridge of endless forest. It was one of the prettiest sights, that I had ever witnessed – the crisscrossing of the mountains in the distance as it blends into the blues of the skies, which makes it particularly picturesque

There are many ‘pull-over’ areas throughout the drive that gives you breath-taking views of the mountains. Stop as many times as you can – we, stopped at every pull-over site, because no two sites were the same and it afforded great photo opportunities.

Capture the sights of the Wildflowers – The Great Smoky Mountains Natural Park is home to approximately 1600 species of flowering plants.

Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers
Wildflowers of the Smokies!

IMG_2353 (4)

These are not just mountains…there is an air of tranquillity here which you must simply experience yourself.

This mountain range is also covered with the ever-present morning fog which gives it the name, “Smokies”.

The Smokies
This mountain range is also covered with the ever-present morning fog which gives it the name, “Smokies”

 

The importance of the Great Smoky Mountains was aptly described by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was quoted as saying:

“There are trees here that stood before our forefathers ever came to this continent; there are brooks that still run as clear as on the day the first pioneer cupped his hand and drank from them.”

Activities

This ancient mountains with its ancient wonders provide a myriad of activities for both young and old. There are many reasons why one would visit this ancient wonder and I have listed my top 10 reasons below.

10 Reasons Why you should Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  1. The Smokies has a long history of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, specifically a community of native Americans called, Cherokee. (I will write about our visit to Cherokee on another blog post soon).
Cherokee
Native American in Cherokee

 

2. The ancient mountains are also a habitat to a huge diversity of wildflowers, plants and animal life which are not found elsewhere.

3. Wildlife – Home to a wide variety of animals.

    ~ approximately 1,500 black bears. We did not see a bear on our visit, however, it is           said that the chances of seeing a bear is highly likely in Cades Cove, (on the western           side of the park) and Cataloochee Valley, (on the park’s east side).

   ~ Spring and Summer are the best months to see the bears, especially in the early                morning and at dusk.

   ~ The bears live throughout the Park and federal law requires all visitors to properly         store their food in the trunk of their vehicles and place all garbage and food scraps             in bear-proof trash cans.

 Elks – an animal associated with the American West. Sightings of these are rare – we were fortunate to see them on our way to Cherokee, North Carolina. 

Great Smoky Mountains - Elks
Rare sightings of Elks in Cherokee

 

4. Wildflowers – The Smokies is home to approximately 1600 species of flowering                   plants.

     ~ During the spring months (mid-April to mid-May) and early summer (late May to             mid-July), are the best times to see wildflowers here such as rhododendron and                   flame azalea.

    ~ The Mountains are also covered with healthy shrub flowers on higher elevation               which we were able to capture on our visit.

   ~ Wet and humid climates, as well as a broad elevation range, are two of the most               important reasons for the park’s renowned diversity.

5. Fishing – For the fishing enthusiasts, there is about 700 plus miles of fishable streams in the Park which offers a selection of brook, brown, or rainbow trout.

6. There are many waterfalls throughout the Park with larger falls such as Grotto, Laurel and Rainbow which are well worth a visit.

7. For the hiking enthusiasts, there are several hiking trails to explore – part of the Appalachian Trail is here.  IMG_2358 (3)

8. The Smoky Mountains has the highest point of elevation of the entire Appalachian Trail at 2019 metres (6625 feet) – near Clingman’s Dome.

9. Camping – From backcountry to horse campgrounds. Backcountry camping requires a permit and reservations in advance. Backcountry campers are also advised to check weather conditions against their itinerary before arrival. Bear activity, in addition to weather, can cause sites, roads, trails and shelters to close. The park can accommodate large groups of campers (minimum party size of 7) at several sites. Group campers must use tents only and they must reserve a spot in advance. 

10. There are about 90 historic buildings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A collection of log buildings, houses, barns, churches, schools and grist mills have been preserved. Best places to experience these are at Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Oconaluftee and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

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Getting here:

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. It has two Visitor Centres – one in Sugarlands and the other in Oconaluftee.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park,

107 Park Headquarters Road

Gatlinburg, TN

 

Useful information:

  1. Weather at The Great Smoky Mountains:
  • It has four distinct seasons.
  • March through May – Spring;
  • June through August – Summer;
  • September through November – Fall;
  • Mid-November through February – Winter.

**The weather here includes severe storms—tornadoes, strong winds, and hail—that can occur especially during the spring and summer months with March having the widest temperature swings. You can expect snowfall at any time during this month.

**Great Smoky Mountains National Park weather is also dependent on elevation. The base of a mountain can be 10 – 20 degrees warmer than temperatures at higher elevations, so prepare accordingly.

 

  1. Bring a Great Smoky Mountains National Park map and ask Great Smoky Mountains park rangers for additional safety tips when hiking or camping.

 

Notes:

This is not a sponsored post and all opinions expressed are my own. All photos are my own and are all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce them. All prints are available upon requests.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog and my adventure here will inspire you to travel to this ancient wonder. Please leave a ‘like’, a comment and return to visit this page regularly as I update it with information for upcoming blogs. Stay in touch by subscribing to my blogs, so it goes straight into your inbox – a link is available on the sidebar.

 

[https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/great-smoky-mountains-national-park]

[https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/historicbuildings.htm]

LensCulture PORTRAIT AWARDS 2019

Today, I received an invite from the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2019 Team to enter the competition by submitting a portrait picture which they had noticed on my Instagram. I am super pleased and elated to be recognised. I am certain that, as readers and followers of my adventures, that you will support my entry to the Portrait Awards 2019 by Sharing this on your Facebook Timeline or Page, and on Twitter as well as on Instagram.

I am grateful to each and every-one of you, for all of your support in making my journey a memorable one as I continue living one grand adventure at a time, sharing my stories through my lens.

 

OFFICIAL ENTRY:
PORTRAIT AWARDS 2019

Glorey Georgina Daniel

United Kingdom

Submission 1: The Cubic Floor of the Great Hall at the Queen’s House, Greenwich, London.

The Cubic Floor of the Great Hall at the Queen’s House, Greenwich, London. Decorated in 1630’s Black and White Marble. Cubic floor measures 12 x 12 x 12 metres.

 

Submission 2: Promise

A beautiful couple holding hands – a firm grasp, promising the girl that all will be alright, “I got this” he says.

Amsterdam in a Nutshell – 18 Experiences in 48 Hours

As we know, Amsterdam is a City that portrays the “anything goes” image – from prostitution that is tolerated openly and the use of cannabis in fashionable coffee shops. Amsterdam is also a seductive City, often referred to as the Venice of the North because of its canals and bridges. It is popular for its fairy-tale landscape which offers so much to see and experience from windmills, gingerbread houses and museums to marijuana, cheese and tulips. It makes a perfect destination for an amazing European City Break.

With only a weekend ahead of us, it was a little overwhelming to figure out what experiences that should not be missed and how to fit all of these into the time frame we had. Our weekend started on a Friday. We travelled from London to Amsterdam onboard the Eurostar, arriving at the Central Station. From here, we opted for a taxi to our hotel, which was just 10 minutes ride. This may sound silly, but travel can be hard work sometimes, with the planning and the must-see list etc. So, after a long week at work, we decided to “take it easy” on this trip although this is our first time in Amsterdam. We were fully aware that excitement can take over when one is visiting a City such as Amsterdam for the first time, but we decided not to have a “do-list” as such, where we must see all the touristic places. We decided to be flexible, be kind to ourselves, enjoy our 5-star hotel and make-up the visits as we go with the few ideas we already had. Whatever we could not visit this time, we will do so on our next.

In retrospect, our visit to Amsterdam on the ‘slow-side’ was an incredible experience. There are still places which we could have experienced but we are contented with all that we did without any stress or pressure of time. Listed here are 18 experiences which we hope that will help you plan your visit to Amsterdam.

Central Amsterdam
Central Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the capital of Netherlands originated from its growth as a city around a dam in the river Amstel. It is a progressive City which boasts an elaborate canal system that extends over 100 kilometres, 90 islands and has 1500 bridges. The are three main canals here which are Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht that forms a concentric belt around the city, known as the Amsterdam Canal Ring – for the locals, it is known as the grachtengordel. The Canal Ring is basically an intersection of waterways which were dug during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. There are 1550 monumental buildings alongside the main canals.  The City is unique in that it offers a beautiful sight of gabled houses which line the streets on both sides of the canal and a unique experience (depends how you look at it) of witnessing little red neon lights, emanating from the infamous ‘Red Light District’ when the sun sets down. The City also has a rich artistic history and is home to the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum. The modern art is displayed at the Stedelijk.  Outside of these, there are museums about cats, collection of handbags and photography, as well as archaeology. Amsterdam has dedicated cycle paths as cycling is key to the City’s character. We learnt that the number of bicycles in the City, of approximately one million outnumber the City’s approximately 750,000 residents, which seems incredible for a City that is quite small. Alongside all of these, the City’s long tradition of beer is being revolutionised by craft brewers, tulips flood the market streets and the Dutch cheese shops appear at every corner of the City.

The City Centre itself is small and it is easy to walk to many of the attractions if you do not want to hop onto the trams or buses. However, it is worthwhile purchasing The I Amsterdam Card for the duration of your stay, for example for 24, 48 or 72 hours. The Card offers you unlimited rides on all public transport within the City and free entry to almost all the museums. We purchased ours from the hotel, ready to explore the delightful City of Amsterdam, without a list!

  1. Dam Square
Central Amsterdam
Central Amsterdam – Canals, pubs, restaurants and Oude Kerk, towering in the distance.

The Dam Square is the heart of Amsterdam City and it should be everyone’s first stop because it is from here that you can get to many places around the City. It is located at the original Amstel River Dam which was built in 1270. The Dam Square connects the Kalverstraat and the Nieuwendijk, which is a pedestrian-only street. It is one of the oldest streets in Amsterdam and is the main shopping street of the City. There are shops lined on both sides with major labels and chain stores.  (Running parallel to Nieuwendijk is Damrak, which is the north-south route from the Dam Square to the Central Station).  From this Square, you can access the Royal Palace which became the royal residence in 1808 but the building itself was built in 1655 as City Hall. You can also access the Nieuwe Kerk, (New Church) which was built in the 15th century. The National Monument was constructed in 1956 to honour the victims of WWII. You could also access Madame Tussauds from here and for those of you who want a little luxury shopping, head over to De Bijenkorf which is opened till late.

  1. The Oude Kerk – This is the Old Church that was built around 1213 and it is the oldest building in Amsterdam. It is huge, magnificent and boasts a gothic architecture which features characteristics of Catholic cathedrals. 
    The Oude Kerk
    The Oude Kerk

    It is ironic that this spiritual building dominates the Red-Light District! We stood at the church’s main entry and in-front of it, across the canal, we could see windows with sex workers in it.

  1. The Red Light District – It was our first experience to step into a Red-Light District. Personally, I did not know what to expect. I was a little apprehensive because Red Light areas are often associated with shady businesses like sex trafficking, drugs and gangs, where premises are often disguised as bars, massage parlours or clubs. So, yes, I was a little afraid of pimps even though I had my Knight with me 😊

Well, on both sides of the canal, we saw that there were plenty of sex shops, with prostitutes sitting in glass cubicles, like shop windows, and these were lit with red neon lights. There were also plenty of peep shows, brothels, an elaborate condom shop, a sex museum and live sex shows. Nothing was hidden. Everything was transparent and straight forward. As evening fell, the crowds started to build-up and soon was bustling with visitors and tourists. There were families, couples, groups and some seedier characters too, so you need to be careful of pickpockets etc when you are visiting here. As darkness fell, the ‘shop windows’ were beginning to fill, the long queues for the live sex shows were getting longer and the streets were getting more “neon-red” as darkness fell.  So, too the increased scent of potent cannabis floating in the air. Although we did not witness any incidents and there was a heavy police presence with 24-hour video security surveillance, we would highly recommend travelling in pairs because of the sheer crowd that this area attracts. One thing to remember though, is that photographing the prostitutes are forbidden and this rule is strictly enforced. The Red Light District is not for everyone, and this is one place we will not be re-visiting.

  1. The Rembrandt Square – Here, you will find the statues reflecting Rembrandt’s famous work, “The Night Watch” and it is well-worth a visit. The Square is also significant as it is the centre for some of Amsterdam’s best restaurants and the many ‘trendy’ coffee shops which you could visit.
  1. Amsterdam coffee shops – offer a range of cannabis in small quantities to adults over the age of 18. It is perfectly legal for tourists to buy and enjoy weed, hash and marijuana in a safe environment. If you like the smell of weed, then you may think that the environment is pleasant, but I beg to differ, unfortunately.
  1. The Flower Market – in Amsterdam is a unique market that has existed since 1862. It is the most colourful and most fragrant part of the City. There are all sorts of tulips in all sorts of colours, which comes prepacked, singular or in bouquets. You can get them in bulbs too. There are also narcissus, geraniums and many other types of flowers that adds to the vibrant colours of the tulips.
  1. Albert Cuypstraat Market – If you want to experience a little of the local lifestyle, then head over to the Albert Cuyp Market because this is where the locals go! This market has been trading since 1904 and over 300 stalls line both sides of the street. You can find basically anything and everything here, from fridge magnets, keychains, souvenir clogs to chocolates laced with cannabis, fruits, spices and cheeses.
  1. Canal boat tour – When in Amsterdam, a canal boat tour is a Must as it offers visitors a unique window on the history of the City and the lifestyle of the people of Amsterdam. The canals are lined with pretty, gabled houses as well as 17th and 18th century mansions and many canal cafes. A canal cruise is an easy way to get acquainted with the City and learn its history.

 

There are many canal cruise-stops along any of the canals. Regardless of the season, you can do either a 1.5 hours or 2 hours tour. There are boat tours throughout the day with large boats that has plenty of seating and covered tops and there are smaller boats that take fewer visitors but with open tops.

The hop-on hop-off canal bus
The hop-on hop-off canal bus

The Canal bus is the hop-on, hop-off canal bus, which you may wish to consider as it stops at strategic places around the City Centre.

There was a canal cruise-stop right in front of the hotel we were staying at. We opted for a sunset tour of the canals, a smaller open top boat which included snacks and drinks for the duration of the one-and-a-half hour, journey plus a good narration of Amsterdam’s history. The evening cruise was very pleasant and mesmerising as the sun began to settle-down. The City looks different in the dark.

  1. The Jordaan Neighbourhood – This is a popular part of Amsterdam because it had undergone transformation in the 1970s. In the 17th century it was an area for the working class community but post 1970s, it has attracted the young professionals and the upper-middle class families. You will find trendy cafes, bars and galleries.
  1. The National Holocaust Memorial – Although we did not have a list of places to visit, we definitely wanted to visit the National Holocaust Memorial, at The Plantage, Amsterdam.     

    Our visit to the Holocaust Memorial was a sombre moment. It was heart-breaking to see the courtyard with messages attached to tulips placed on the wall. The courtyard was formerly, a luxurious theatre, in an affluent Jewish neighbourhood. Today it stands as a permanent reminder to the atrocities committed by the Nazis during WWII here. There is an exhibition on the first floor and an eternal-flame on the ground floor to honour the memories of those who had lost their lives. The Museum and the Memorial is supported through donations. If you are visiting Amsterdam and if you can, please visit this war memorial. It humbles you.

  1. The Westerkerk – In the most western part of Central Amsterdam, next to the Jordaan and the Canal Belt, you will find the Westerkerk – The Western Church. It was built between 1620 and 1631, in the Dutch Renaissance style, designed by Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621). The Westerkerk is the largest and the most important Protestant Church in Amsterdam.                 

    The Westerkerk
    The Westerkerk

The Westerkerk has a tower which was built in 1638, known as the Westerkerk Tower. It stands at 85 metres (275ft) high and dominates Amsterdam’s Old City. It is regarded as the City’s symbol and a pride of Amsterdam.

  1. The De Gooyer Windmill – The De Gooyer Windmill stands at 26.6 metres high and is the tallest windmill in Amsterdam. This large wooden, octagonal shaped windmill was originally built as a flour mill in 1725. The mill was moved to its current location at Funenkade in 1814, and it sits on a stone foundation which is part of a water mill that was destroyed in 1812.     
    The De Gooyer Windmill
    The De Gooyer Windmill

    Although it no longer serves its original purpose, it remains a distinctive feature of Amsterdam and is listed as a National Monument. It is one of the last of the 26 corn mills remaining in the Netherlands.

  1. Food & Drink Experiences – Heineken ~ When in Amsterdam, having the locally brewed Heineken is an essential experience. Even though Heineken is available in 192 countries but experiencing it here, in Amsterdam, makes it a somewhat different experience.

In addition to Heineken, you must also try the local craft beer by Brouwerij’t IJ

  1. Food & Drink Experiences – Craft Beer ~ The IJ Brewery which is famous for its craft beer is located next to the De Gooyer windmill. The brewery was opened in 1985, and offers a nice selection of beers, organic and dark. The brewery offers guided tours and tastings.    IMG_8994What impressed us was the large outdoor terrace, but as it is popular, finding a place all to yourself will be a problem.
  1. Food & Drink Experiences – Seafood and Cocktails ~ It is always interesting to try the different cuisines of the City you are visiting. In Amsterdam, what stood out for us were the oysters!   

    Beautifully presented and fresh from the seas 😊

  1. Food & Drink Experiences – Stroop waffles or Pancakes or both?

          We tried both!

The Pancakes were tastier, crispier and freshly made – we tried this at the Old Dutch Pancake House in Amsterdam Centrum.    IMG_4143 (2)It was quiet inside when we visited, because opted to sit out in the sunshine. Service was quick and we enjoyed a quiet time, no rush at all.

  1. Food & Drink Experiences – Cheese

Amsterdam is famous for its cheese! There was a cheese store on every street, every corner and within a few hundred feet of each other! Our favourite was the Henri Willig.

IMG_8952 (3)

The Henri Willig offers an extensive range of their cheese products and dips. We found their range of herb cheeses rather unique and they had a new one with chillies, rather unusual. When you are here, Henri Willig is worth exploring.

  1. Just watch out …. For bikes! In a City where the bicycles outnumber the local population, you may want to look both ways when crossing.   

    As an experience though, it is amazing to find how effortlessly people take on to riding their bicycles, with their shopping and bags, without a fuss or discomfort. With dedicated bicycle lanes, it is one of their primary mode of transport.

 

**Useful information

Anne Frank’s House – If you are planning a visit to Amsterdam and you wish to visit Anne Frank’s House, then I would suggest that you pre-book your visit as tickets for a tour of Anne Frank’s House usually sells out months in advance. Although a handful of tickets are released each morning, there is always a long waiting list and the chances are slim to get one of these tickets. So, if you want it, pre-book it!

IMG_8971

 

2. The Queen’s House

The Queen’s House, unlike other buildings with the name “Queen’s House,” really is  a historic royal house which served as a former royal residence, Greenwich Palace, where Elizabeth I was born. It was built between 1616 and 1636 and was designed by the famous architect, Inigo Jones, who was inspired by his travels in Italy. The Queen’s House was the first Classical building in England and one of the very few surviving designs of Inigo Jones. The building is Grade 1 listed and is an ancient monument and includes the 35 metres (115 feet) axial vista to the River Thames.

It all began when James I gifted the building to his wife, Anne of Denmark, by way of an apology for swearing in her presence because she shot one of his favourite dogs whilst hunting. Work on the building commenced in 1616 but halted in 1619 when Anne of Denmark died, with only the first floor completed. Work on the house  continued again after some years in 1629, when Charles I gave Greenwich to his wife, Henrietta Maria. The House was finally completed in 1636.  Additional wings to the building were linked by colonnades built in 1807.

Today, you can wander around this magnificent building for Free which has undergone massive restoration in recent years and imagine what life would have been like all the way back in the 17th century.

The Queens House
Colonnades linking the main building, the Queen’s House with the additional wings
The Queen's House
The Queen’s House

There are many reasons to visit this iconic building, which is also referred to as the “House of Delight” particularly because of its 400 years of history and legend has it that it is also a “haunted” palace. You can view and gain insight into the art collection through the ages especially the iconic Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I which was acquired for the nation in 2016. You will also discover the many stories of England’s past from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I to Charles I and beyond including the history of its architecture through the guided and informed tours. 

 

This iconic building painted in white was impressive from the outside and it is hard to believe that it was once a red-brick building.

The Queen's House
The main entrance to the Queen’s House. Hard to imagine that it was once a red brick building.

Walking into the building, I began to realise the magnificence of the architecture …

The Great Hall

On entering the Great Hall, I found myself standing within the four-walls of a cube 12 metres x 12 metres x 12 metres that has one of the most beautifully designed ceiling and floor that I had seen. Simple but effective, yet making a statement of architectural genius.

Standing in the midst of this cubic masterpiece, at first glance looking up, you will notice a simplistic and a beautifully decorated ceiling in gold leaf. It reflected painstaking craftmanship of an intricate and unique design that goes well with the rest of the interior of the House. I understood from the tour guide that the design was crafted by Richard Wright, a Turner Prize winner. The delicate and ornate work began in 2016 and was completed in nine weeks. This was the first time the ceiling had been worked upon since 1639.

The ceiling of the Great Hall at the Queen's House
A beautiful gold-leaf patterns to match the rest of the architecture.
The intricate detail of the architecture.
The intricate detail of the architecture.

 

The original decoration of the ceiling were six paintings by Orazio and Gentileschi which were removed very carefully and now belongs to Marlborough House in London.

The original ceiling of the Great Hall in the Queen's House
The original ceiling of the Great Hall, decorated with paintings by Orazio and Gentileschi.

The Great Hall is the heart of the building. From the first floor gallery, you get a closer view of this incredible architecture.

A closer look at the architecture
A closer look at the architecture

 

When you are on the first floor, you see the squared floor below in a striking black and white marble from the 1630’s. Incredible, isn’t it?

The Queen's House

The floor of the cubic Great Hall. The floor measures 12 metres x 12 metres and is decorated in 1630’s black and white marble.

 

Although the Great Hall is the centrepiece of the Queens House, a walk through the first floor gallery gives you spectacular views of the exterior. On one side, there is a view straight to the Thames! Queen Mary II ensured that there was uninterrupted view of the Thames and that the closest distance between the College Buildings, situated over the road is exactly the width of the House, see the below photo. Wasn’t she a smart woman!

Direct view of the Thames
From this window, is a view straight to the Thames. Queen Mary II ensured that the closest distance between the College Buildings (over the road) is exactly the width of the House,

Then, on the other side of the first floor gallery square, you get view of the Royal Observatory, high up the hill, across the Royal Park.

View of the Royal Observatory across the Royal Park
From this window, is the view of the Royal Observatory across the Royal Park. The balcony provides an area for the Queen and her ladies to watch riding and hunting taking place in the Park.

 

The Tulip Stairs

The Tulip Stairs is definitely unique! You need to see it to know what I mean. This magnificent ornate, wrought iron structure is one of the original features of the House and is the first geometric self-supporting spiral stairs in Britain. The paint, which is a quirky shade of blue is unique, because it was derived from crushed glass.

The Tulip staircase
The spiral tulip staircase is unsupported except by each step.

The Tulip Stairs is also popular for another reason – this is where the photos taken by Rev Hardy in 1966 showed two or three shrouded figures on the staircase.

[Later sightings of ghosts was in 2002 in the balcony of the House].

[To find out more about seeing our Queen’s House ghost source materials, email Geraldine Charles at GLChar@rmg.co.uk.]

The Queen’s Presence Chamber

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This incredible feature of the Queen’s House is on the first floor. The ceiling of this room is ornately painted, and the artwork is another original feature of the Queen’s House and gives an idea of how this House was decorated and filled with art in the 1630s by Henrietta Maria. This ceiling was restored in 2013.

The Queen's Presence Chamber
The ceiling in the Queens’s Presence Chamber features the original artwork of the building.

The fireplace in this room is an interesting feature. Above the fireplace, sits the initials of Charles I and Henrietta Maria Regina.

In addition to these two incredible original features of the House, the infamous Armada Portrait is on permanent display in this room.

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There are three distinct features of this Portrait – the imperial power following the British defeat of the Spanish Armada, the hopes and aspiration of the people at that time and to reflect female power and majesty. The first feature is the Tudor Rose that is used in the portrait to symbolise the unity in the realm under the Tudor dynasty through the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. The Rose also represents religious connotations, which depicts the medieval symbol of the Virgin Mary, to allude to Elizabeth, the virgin queen, as the secular successor of Virgin Mary. Secondly, the Pelican which is Elizabeth’s favourite symbol is used to portray Elizabeth’s motherly love to her subjects. Thirdly, the ermine, its tail of pure white and a black tip symbolised purity and was also a status symbol as wearing it was restricted to royalty and high nobility.

Queen Elizabeth 1 was a virgin queen at the age of 55, at the time of the Armada Invasion in 1588. “A Mask of Youth” was created to portray her innocence as well as her strength and charisma. You can see it displayed opposite the Armada painting.

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My visit to the Queens House was a rewarding experience because I learnt more about its history and had time to admire the architecture at leisure. I found the tour guides extremely helpful and I enjoyed my conversations about the House with them. Although a donation is recommended, the entry itself is free. I would highly recommend a visit to this iconic building.

 

Summary of Experiences at the Queen’s House

  1. Imagine what life was like back in the 17th century as you walk through the 1st Classical building in England which is Grade 1 listed and is an ancient monument.
  2. Experience 400 years of history, the stories behind each painting and each wall…
  3. Discover why it is also known as “The House of Delight”
  4. The incredible art collection
  5. The cubic Great Hall 
  6. The recently restored beautifully decorated ceiling in gold leaf
  7. Walk on the incredible striking black and white marble from the 1630s
  8. The stunning view directly to the River Thames from the 1st floor gallery
  9. The infamous Tulip Stairs
  10. The Queen’s Presence Chamber
  11. The ceiling of the Chamber is the original feature of the House
  12. The “Mask of Youth”

 

Useful information:

Opening hours: 10:00 – 17:00

Admission: Free

Tours are ticketed: £9.00 (online/in advance) or £10.00 (walk-in)

NB: Combined tickets are available for all attractions which works out cheaper – Day Explorer: Adult: £24.25    Child: £11.50

Address: Romney Road, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF

Facilities:

At the base of the Tulip staircase – Toilets, baby-change facilities and an accessible toilet.

External horseshoe stairs – for level access

https://www.rmg.co.uk