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Greenwich ranks 17th in world

Maritime Greenwich yesterday became the UK's 17th World Heritage Site, ranking it alongside the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and Stonehenge. The decision, announced at a Unesco meeting in Naples, is a recognition of the unique qualities of an area by the Thames in south London that includes Sir Christopher Wren's Royal Naval Hospital, Inigo Jones's Queen's House, the Cutty Sark and Greenwich Park with the Old Royal Observatory.

Welcoming the accolade, Culture Secretary Chris Smith said the protection accorded such sites helped to "define what the word `civilisation' means".

The listing brings no extra money but could assist conservationists in their fight to preserve a row of 18th century shops in the area which are threatened by a proposed retail complex.