Oxford, “that sweet City with her dreaming spires,”’ is a jewel in the heritage of Great Britain and one of the most famous cities in Europe. Since AD 1200 it has been the home of Britain’s oldest university and, over the course of eight centuries, the birthplace of no less than 39 official Colleges and seven Permanent Private Halls, all of which have established Oxford as one of the world’s leading centers of learning and magnificent architecture.
Oxford is a city bursting with restaurants, cafes, shops, and pubs. It is a city of culture with year-round theatre, music, film, exhibitions and festivals, all within easy reach of the beautiful Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Blenheim Palace at nearby Woodstock – all ideal for day excursions.
It is celebrated too for the beauty of its colleges, which for seven centuries have had wealth and skill lavished on them, a succession of distinguished architects having contributed to one of the finest collections of buildings in Europe.
The willow-lined River Cam winds along the backs of the ancient colleges, providing an unrivaled setting for them. Punting along the river is a particularly enjoyable way to experience the extraordinary combination of rural tranquility and architectural beauty – a combination reflecting the harmonious variety of Cambridge.
It is a city of contrasts and changing vistas, with narrow alleys that suddenly open into wide dignified courts, bustling streets alongside venerable college buildings – and where cattle graze only a few hundred yards from the marketplace.
Notwithstanding its fame and the magnificence of its buildings, the center of Cambridge is quite small, with the charm of a market town. It is an ideal place for strolling. Wander through the streets and colleges, peep in through Tudor gatehouses, look up at exuberant clusters of pinnacles and remember that
Erasmus, Newton, Darwin, Milton, Pepys, Stephen Hawking, and, yes, C.S. Lewis, are just a few among the many illustrious scholars who have called Cambridge home.