Beginning in March 2010, visitors to the Royal Observatory Greenwich will pay a fee to visit the Meridian Courtyard, home of the Greenwich Meridian Line. Other facilities at the museum will remain free.
Maritime Greenwich is a World Heritage Site that includes
“… the Old Royal Naval College, the Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory, Greenwich Royal Park, the Ranger’s House and the historic town centre.”
The Royal Observatory is where where visitors straddle the Prime Meridian and stand with one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and one foot in the Western.
Visiting the courtyard has been free since 2001 but now, even if you just want a photo of yourself on the line, even if you just want to smooch someone in a different hemisphere, even if you just want to heckle the people who think the line is a big deal, you will need to pay £10.
The number of visitors since 2001, when it became free, has increased four fold and so has the wear and tear on the facility. According to the museum’s website, the new fee is being collected for,
“resources to manage this increase in visitors safely, while improving their experience and maintaining the world-famous site and displays at the Observatory”.
Greenwich was chosen as the “prime meridian” in 1884 (Paris was a runner up) and serves as 0º longitude for the rest of the world. Another international standard, Greenwich Mean Time, set time zones for other countries beginning in the late 1800s.
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