Oxford Tourist Information
Oxford is renowned the world over, as the home of one of the oldest and most highly revered Universities in Europe. The city lies at the confluence of the Rivers Cherwell and Thames, or "Isis", as it is locally known, giving the opportunity for boating, punting and many pleasant riverside walks.
Oxford is a compact city; its main streets radiate from Carfax Tower in the centre, with most of the colleges and University buildings all within easy walking distance.It was Mathew Arnold whose description lingers in the mind, and best sums up Oxford: "And that sweet City with her dreaming spires, she needs not June for beauty's heightening".
Just outside the City on Boar's Hill is the best place to see an overall view of the "dreaming spires", a hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable sight.
The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin - First mentioned in the Domesday Book, one of the best views of Oxford is from the magnificent tower, which was built in the 13th century, the nave dates from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Ashmolean Museum - Britain's oldest public museum, housing the University's collections of paintings, glass, silver, ceramics and artefacts from the ancient world.
The Radcliffe Camera (closed to the public) a rotunda, whose dome is a landmark in Oxford's centre, was designed by James Gibb (1737-49). Inspired by the Tower of the Winds in Athens, it is regarded as one of Europe's most beautiful buildings. It originally housed the Radcliffe Library, today the 16 sided room on the ground floor is a reading room for the Bodleian Library.
The Bodleian Library - 15th century Divinity School, 17th century Old Schools Quadrangle and Exhibition Room.
Carfax Tower - 16th century church tower and viewpoint.
Curioxity - Hands on science exhibits for all ages.
The Oxford Story - Ride through exhibition interpreting the fascinating 800 year history of Oxford University.
Sheldonian Theatre - The ceremonial hall of the University designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
University of Oxford Botanic Gardens - Opposite Magdalen College in Rose Lane is the oldest Botanic Gardens in Britain. Laid out in 1621 on the instructions of Henry, Earl of Danby, as a Physic Garden. Entrance is through the beautiful Italianate Gateway designed by Nicholas Stone, beautiful flowerbeds, trees and greenhouses filled with rare plants, collected over the centuries from around the world. The gardens are in a beautiful and peaceful setting, bounded on one side by the curve of the River Cherwell.
Nearby at Magdalen Bridge punts are available for hire on the Cherwell and the Thames, other boat houses are located at Bardwell Road and Folly Bridge, St. Aldates.
The famous Christ Church Meadow, painted by J.M.W. Turner, still exists and provides rural walkways in the heart of the city.
Today's Oxford, offers interesting shopping facilities, from the well-known high street names, modern shopping centres and malls to the interesting Victorian covered market in the High Street. From the University's shop, to many small specialists, offering old maps and prints, books, jewellery and local souvenirs you will find shopping interesting in Oxford.
When it comes to eating out, you will have no trouble finding just the right place. Oxford is well experienced in catering for customers from around the world, of all ages and all tastes. There is a wide choice from Coffee Houses through to gourmet Restaurants.
Entertainment in Oxford is as interesting as you would expect in this university city. The Apollo Theatre is the largest theatre, where visiting international touring companies present a mix of musicals, shows and rock and pop concerts. At Oxford Playhouse, leading international, national and local theatre companies make up a varied programme of high quality drama, dance, music and opera presented in this newly refurbished Georgian Theatre. There are other smaller theatres where you can see Drama and Comedy from the University's leading players. Classical music concerts are held in the Sheldonian Theatre, Christ Church Cathedral and other famous Oxford settings.
There exists an amiable dispute, about which college in Oxford is the oldest, and may be determined thus. - University College had the first benefactor and indirectly, founder and the first property. Balliol College first occupied a site it has never left. Merton College had the first statutes establishing a collegiate institution.Brief details of the official Colleges of Oxford University.
All Souls College (1438) Founded by Henry Chichele Archbishop of Canterbury, to commemorate those who had lost their lives in the Hundred Years War against France, and to pray for their souls. All Souls has no undergraduate members, only graduate fellows elected for their academic distinction. The architecture of the college is among the finest in Oxford, the north quadrangle and twin towers are the work of Hawksmoor and the sundial is by Wren. The Chapel is particularly fine, for its hammer-beam roof with angels, the reredos was uncovered and restored in the 19th century.
Balliol College (1263) Founded by John Balliol was given its Statutes by his widow the Scottish Princess Dervorguilla of Galloway in 1282. Most of the college buildings are from the 19th century.
Brasenose College (1509) Founded on the site of an earlier community. The name is thought to derive from the Brazen Nose doorknocker hanging in the dining hall, which resembles an animal snout. The front, the first quadrangle and the gateway tower are all original, the hall and chapel are attributed to Wren. Past Members - Field Marshal Haig, Jeffrey Archer, and William Golding.
Christ Church (1525) known as "The House", Founded as Cardinal College by Cardinal Wolsey on the site of St. Frideswide's Monastery. Re-founded by Henry VIII (1546) and re-named Christ Church. Oxford's largest and most magnificent college, incorporates England's smallest Cathedral, which is also the college chapel. Tom Tower, designed by Christopher Wren contains the great bell weighing over seven tonnes, known as Great Tom. Each evening at five minutes past nine the bell rings 101 times, one peel for each member of the original college. The Cathedral is mainly a Norman building with many interesting features, the choir with its lovely Norman columns rise to delicate fan-tracery in the roof. The stained glass is by Burne-Jones and William Morris. Past Members - Thomas More, Philip Sidney, William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania U.S.A.), C.L. Dodgson (alias Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice in Wonderland while he was a mathematics fellow at the college), John Ruskin, John Wesley, A. Waugh, Sir Adrian Boult, and many British Prime Ministers. The Picture Gallery at Christ Church, contains a superb collection of paintings and drawings from the 14th-18th centuries. Paintings from Italy, Flanders and France, with works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
Corpus Christie College (1516) Founded by Bishop Richard Fox of Winchester. The college is the smallest in the University, but one of the most academic.
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* Distances shown are in a direct line. Distances by road will be longer.