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Old Royal Naval College

Marvel at a famous ceiling mural in the elegant dining hall where war hero Horatio Nelson’s body lay after the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Old Royal Naval College is an inspiring landmark by the River Thames in London and houses several outstanding attractions. It was once home to a hospital and then the Royal Naval College, which closed in 1998. Now, it has historical artifacts and intriguing buildings. Britain’s most famous architect, Christopher Wren, built the symmetrical domed structure at the turn of the 18th century. It is a UNESCO site due to its remarkable design and cultural significance. 

Admire the large structure’s twin domes, which tower over the River Thames. Explore the elegant Painted Hall, which was originally designed in the 1700s to be one of the finest dining halls in the world. The hall is now known as the place where British war hero Horatio Nelson’s body lay after defeating Napoleon in the Battle of Trafalgar. Artist James Thornhill took 19 years to complete the interior decorations and ceiling painting.

Discover the neoclassical designs in the site’s chapel. Marvel at the gold statues, stone columns and Baroque works of art. Attend a religious service and see an exhibition on 500 years of history in the Greenwich Visitor Center. End your visit with a beer at The Old Brewery. Admire stunning views of the River Thames and the financial district’s skyscrapers on the horizon from inside the buildings.

The site opens daily from morning until late in the evening, though each building has its own closing times. Admission is free. 

The attraction was once home to the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, which then became Greenwich Hospital. In the 17th century, the Palace of Placentia was situated on the same site. It was the birthplace of Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth II and was allegedly the favorite spot of King Henry VII.

The Old Royal Naval College sits on the edge of the River Thames in the southeast of London. It is near to Greenwich Park, the Royal Museums and Greenwich Market. There are many transportation links to the site. Take the Docklands Light Railway to the Cutty Sark station, just a 5 minute-walk away. You can catch the River Bus, railway or take the London Underground to Canary Wharf nearby.

Want to make your stop at Old Royal Naval College even more memorable? Don't miss the chance to try some of these things to do:

Your next exciting adventure has been waiting for you! You may like to try a Greenwich Highlights Half Day Tour or a Best Of Greenwich Day Tour.

For many more things to do, examine our Greenwich things to do page.


Guide to Exploring Old Royal Naval College


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