Oxford is one of the oldest and most famous university cities in Europe, and for centuries has rivaled Cambridge for its academic pre-eminence in England. His spirit of limitless exploration; numerous charming gardens, courtyards and university parks; with the hectic bustle of its pedestrian area and excellent cultural facilities help to create a very special atmosphere.
Oxford has many tourist attractions, including the Carfax Tower, offering superb views of the city and the historic indoor market with its excellent shops. For a truly unique vacation experience, some university colleges now offer accommodation options, including bed and breakfast. Harry Potter fans might be interested to learn that various Oxford landmarks appeared in the films, including Christ Church College, where the dining room was closely copied for the Great Hall at Hogwarts. And for something a little more quirky, take a look at the (famous) Headington Shark, a shark sculpture stuck head first in the roof of a humble terraced house.
1. Oxford City Center
Although the center of Oxford is not large, a lot of time should be allowed for a visit as there is so much to do here. The four main streets of the city meet at the intersection known as Carfax, a good starting point for a visit. The 14th-century Carfax tower, a vestige of the Saint-Martin church (now destroyed), offers superb views. The town hall is also worth a visit; St. Aldate Church (1318); and Pembroke College, founded in 1624 but whose origins date back to 1446. The neighboring Modern Art Oxford, a visual art gallery devoted to exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, regularly offers lectures, music and films.
The splendid High Street of Oxford is bordered by many magnificent buildings (including many colleges) and has been described by the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne as “the most beautiful street in England”. During your visit, visit the university church, Sainte-Marie-la-Vierge, with its elegantly decorated tower (1280) offering excellent views of the city. The choir, rebuilt in 1462, is also interesting. the nave and the Lady chapel, dating from 1490; and the stalls, dating from 1466.
2. Christ Church Cathedral
Although the current building dates from the 12th century, Christ Church acquired cathedral status in 1546. The most striking feature inside is the double arch of the nave, creating an impression of much greater height. In the 14th century, the church was enlarged to the north and the choir was created in 1500 with fan vaults overhanging the keystones. In the south transept is the Thomas Becket window (1320) and five glass windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones and produced by William Morris in 1871. Also note the St. Frideswide window (1858) and three tombs of a lady from the 14th century. century Montacute, Prior Sutton and John de Nowers, as well as the remains of the sanctuary of Frideswide (1289). The tomb of the philosopher George Berkeley (1681-1735), who gave his name to the city of Berkeley in California, is also located at the cathedral.
3. Christ Church College
Christ Church, one of the largest colleges in Oxford, was founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey and re-founded after his fall by Henry VIII. Tom Tower, added by Christopher Wren in 1682, contains a huge seven-ton bell known as the Great Tom, which rings 101 times each evening at 9:05 p.m. (once for each member of the college of origin). The main quadrilateral, with its charming fountain, is known as the Tom Quad and is the largest courtyard in Oxford. The lower tower, with its beautiful staircase and its fan-shaped vault, leads to the hall, an elegant dining room with a magnificent wooden ceiling completed in 1529. Portraits of Henry VIII and distinguished members of the college – including William Penn, founder from Pennsylvania – adorn the walls.
Beyond the deanery (Charles I lived here from 1642 to 1646) is Kill-Canon, a passage so cold that it was to be feared that the cannons would catch their death from the cold. Kill-Canon leads to the Peckwater Quad, with its library containing drawings and memories of Cardinal Wolsey. Art lovers will also want to visit the Christ Church image gallery, which houses a large collection of 300 old masters and 2,000 drawings.
4. Radcliffe Square
Radcliffe Square houses the Old Schools Quadrangle (1613) and the Radcliffe Camera (1737), a rotunda that originally housed the Radcliffe Library. The 16-sided room on the ground floor is now a reading room for the Bodleian Library, the university library and the first public library in the country, founded in 1598. A copy of each book published in Great Britain is deposited here , including some two million volumes and 40,000 manuscripts. From the library you can also explore the magnificent Divinity School.
5. Sheldonian Theatre
Built in 1664, the Sheldonian Theater was the second major building of Sir Christopher Wren and is used for the university’s annual commemoration. The Science History Museum – located in the Old Ashmolean Building, the world’s first purpose-built museum building – is a fascinating installation specializing in the study of the history of science and the development of culture and from the western collection. The museum includes the blackboard that Albert Einstein used during his Oxford lectures in 1931.
Other nearby attractions include the Holywell Music Hall (1748), said to be the oldest concert hall in the world, and Kettell Hall (1620) with its beautiful chapel and beautiful wood carvings.
6. Martyrs’ Memorial
A cross in St. Giles Street marks the place where the reformers Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were burnt at the stake between 1555 and 1556, an event commemorated by the Martyrs’ Memorial (1841). The neighboring house in Rhodes (seat of the Rhodes Trust founded in honor of the South African statesman Cecil Rhodes) is also worth a visit. The Natural History Museum at the University of Oxford, built in 1855, also contains a number of interesting collections, including geological, mineralogical and zoological sections, as well as works by Darwin, Burchell and Hope. There is also a pleasant walk along the Cherwell past Parson’s Pleasure to a path called Mesopotamia, which leads to the Madeleine Bridge.
7. Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean Museum, founded in 1683 and the oldest in the country, is the most important of the four university museums. The neoclassical building houses a magnificent collection of art and antiques, including classical sculpture, Far Eastern art, Greek and Roman pottery, and a precious collection of jewelry.
Other Oxford museums that should be added to the travel routes include the Pitt Rivers Museum, with its fascinating anthropological and archaeological collection, as well as the Oxford Museum, a local history museum that deals with both the city and the rich past of the university. For something a little different, the Fun Story Museum is popular for its literary-themed events, including the popular Alice Days celebrating the very first tale of Oxford Cared for Alice’s Adventures in Alice in Wonderland .
8. Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle has been a place of incarceration since 1071, continuing until the closure of Her Majesty’s Prison Oxford in 1996. Today visitors can learn about real people and events from the site turbulent past through fascinating exhibitions and re-enactments.
Other highlights include the possibility of climbing the Saxon Tower of St. George, the oldest building in Oxford, and enjoying its superb 360-degree views. Next, descend deep underground into the 900-year-old crypt. Other areas to explore include the confines of the 18th century debtor’s tower and the 11th century Chateau de Motte-et-Bailey. Guided tours and many fun themed events are available.
9. Blenheim Palace
In Woodstock, just 8 miles northwest of Oxford, is Blenheim Palace, seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and the Spencer-Churchill family and birthplace of Winston Churchill. This magnificent 200-room palace was built between 1701 and 1724 for John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, with the financial support of Queen Anne, who wished to express his thanks to the Duke for his victory in 1704 over the French during the Battle of Blenheim, an event commemorated on the ceiling of the Great Hall.
In addition to visiting the magnificent main building with its neoclassical entrance hall with columns and its quadrant annexes with corner towers and crowned colonnades, be sure to explore the adjacent wings, with their large courtyards, as well as the vast courtyard main. Another highlight is the chance to explore the magnificent gardens, with their French Rococo borders, and the parks designed by Capability Brown. Other outdoor attractions include the Italian and herb gardens, a butterfly house, and a labyrinth.
An easy drive just six miles south of Oxford, Abingdon is a charming town on the banks of the Thames. A large number of interesting houses and churches can be found here, including the old two-story county hall, built in 1678 and now housing the Abingdon County Hall museum. Also note the beautiful Saint Helena Church, with its graceful spire, its two naves and its carefully painted woodwork (1390), as well as the Hospital of Christ, founded in 1553.
Parts of the once influential Benedictine Abbey (675 AD) can still be explored, including later elements such as the Checker Hall (13th century), the Long Gallery (circa 1500) and the Abbey Gate (1450 ). Abingdon has several recreational and recreational facilities, including the White Horse Recreation and Tennis Center, Tilley Park and Southern Town Park. Every year in October, the city center is closed for the Ock Street Michaelmas fair, the longest street fair in Europe.