GREENWICH’S iconic buildings are to be illuminated in unison for the first time ever to celebrate two decades of UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
The Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory, Old Royal Naval College(ORNC) and the National Maritime Museum(NMM) including the Queen’s House are among those to be lit up tonight from 8.30pm until 11pm.
The event on what is World Heritage Day is to launch a programme of special anniversary events to mark the twentieth anniversary of Maritime Greenwich’s World Heritage Site (WHS) status. Greenwich Park and the grounds of both the ORNC and NMM will open late until 10pm for people to view the spectacle.
Maritime Greenwich was awarded the prestigious UNESCO status in 1997 in recognition of its cultural significant buildings by Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones and for its global significance in the development of astrology, time keeping and navigation. Greenwich has enjoyed global significance since being named as the location of the Prime Meridian of the World in 1884.
Cllr Denise Hyland, the chair of the Maritime Greenwich WHS steering group and leader of Greenwich council, said: “Greenwich is renowned around the world as the home of time and a place with a rich royal and maritime history. A lot has changed in our borough in the twenty years since Maritime Greenwich became a WHS but one constant that has remained is the appeal that it has with visitors from around the world. Each year 18 million people visit our borough spending £1.24 billion in the local economy. As we reach this momentous anniversary, the celebrations we have planned will help to reinforce why people keep coming back here time after time.”
Kevin Fewster, the director Royal Museums Greenwich, said: “We take great pride in being part of Maritime Greenwich, one of the most significant WHS in the UK. The 20th anniversary event is a fantastic opportunity for us to bring people together to see the architectural beauty of Maritime Greenwich, centred on The Queen’s House and the Grand Axis that it defines, and celebrate the heritage that played such a significant role in British and world history.”
Brendan McCarthy, the chief executive of the ORNC and chair of the Maritime Greenwich WHS executive group said: “This is a unique opportunity to showcase this very special place, raise awareness of WHS and give people a chance to appreciate our internationally significant architecture in a way that hasn’t been done before.”