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Light falling through the colonnades at the Old Royal Naval College

Silhouettes

Shadows cast by the colonnades

Attribute 8

The nature of the terrain in Maritime Greenwich, with its scarp rising up in Greenwich Park, has made the silhouette of buildings and landscape an important facet of its special character.

The famous ‘Canaletto’ view from the Isle of Dogs relies on the silhouette of the baroque buildings of the Old Royal Naval College and the Royal Observatory seen against a clear sky behind. There are similar silhouetted views from upstream and downstream approaches where a lack of tall buildings has maintained the dominance of the historic buildings and trees. Similarly, the approaches along the riverside paths, particularly from the east, allow a view of the whole World Heritage Site, emphasising its topography.

The masts of Cutty Sark

Greenwich Town Centre exhibits more fine silhouettes where the historic skyline of chimneys and roofs can be seen from a number of viewpoints. Although these have been spoiled by some post-war development, sufficient remain for them to be protected.

There are many individual buildings in the World Heritage Site which rely on a clear sky behind them to display their special silhouettes. As well as the domes of the Old Royal Naval College, these include Our Lady, Star of the Sea (1850) and St Alfege churches. Perhaps the most significant is Cutty Sark where the masts and rigging can be seen against a clear sky.

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