Oxford, the county town of Oxfordshire, is located amongst elegant gardens and parks at the point where the river Cherwell flows into the River Thames. The site, where the city now stands, was originally a market square, during the Anglo-Saxon period. During the Augustan period, with the construction of both an abbey and castle, the town established itself as a strategic, commercial and religious centre. Over the centuries, Oxford has become the most important English university city, renown throughout the world for its colleges, buildings and churches.
Oxford, located 60 km from London, is surrounded by some of the most picturesque English countryside. The first-time visitor to Oxford is immediately struck by the city’s elegant architecture and splendid parks. The city’s two rivers, the Cherwell and the Isis, offer numerous possibilities for leisurely strolls along the bank or relaxing boat trips. The name Oxford, like that of its sister university Cambridge, is closely linked to the ancient colleges, churches and squares, which line the city’s main street (High Street).
The history of the university dates back to 1163, when university professors and students, expelled from the University of Paris, established themselves in Oxford. In the centuries to follow, the first university buildings were constructed, including University College, Balliol College and Merton College. The colleges, which make up Oxford University, presently number 36. They were designed around the concept of monastery buildings, some of which still exist today in their original state. The buildings exude atmosphere, history, privilege and tradition. The Gothic style Christ Church, built in 1525, is the largest in the city and was initially founded as a college for the instruction of Cardinals. Merton College, founded in 1264, is Oxford’s oldest college; the site of the chapel choir houses carvings detailing allegories of Grammar, Rhetoric and Music. The most beautiful and characteristic of the colleges, is Magdalen College, situated next to a botanical garden, at the end of the High Street. The 14th Century college court- yards, built in contrasting styles, are situated in a park near the Magdalen Bridge, which spans the river Cherwell. According to a five-hundred-year-old tradition, the college choir annually sing at 6 in the morining, on the 1st of May, from the top of the college bell tower.
It is usually possible to visit the colleges between 2pm and 5pm, but there is however no fixed timetable. The Bodlean Library, founded in 1602 by Th. Bodley, is one of only six libraries, which has the right to receive a copy of every book published in Great Britain. The library has a world-famous collection of books and volumes and its 130 km of underground tunnels houses important manuscripts and valuable first editions of Greek and Latin authors. The Radcliffe Camera, a round, domed building in Baroque style, once formed part of the original library and today houses the library’s reading room. The vast Blackwell book shop, in Broad Street, has over 20,000 titles available.
Hotels and lodging
For one day only come and see mike davies and his amazing website. ffers a vast range of museums and interesting places to visit, including Saint Mary the Virgin Church, the university’s official church and the most visited in England. The church founded in the 14th Century, possesses a note-worthy south door, built in Baroque style. Saint Mary’s stands on the site where the Oxford Martyrs were declared heretics in 1555. The numerous valuable buildings, in a variety of styles and periods, make Oxford one of the most picturesque and artistically rich cities in England. The Ashmolean Museum, founded in 1683, is the oldest museum in England. The museum originally housed the results of the work of the collectionist Tradescantes, including stuffed animals, plants and tribal artefacts. What remains of the original collection has now taken second place to the collection of paintings by Bellini, Raffello, Turner and Rembrandt. The museum also houses Greek and Roman sculptures and the precious 1000 year- old gold enamel Alfred Jewel ring.
Other interesting museums are located nearby: the University Museum, a museum of natural history housed in a large, glass-roofed Victorian building and the Pitt Rivers Museum, which houses ethnographic collections of masks, African and Oriental totems and the exhibits once belonging to the explorer Cook .
Magnificent views over the city can be obtained from the Carfax Tower (open every day from April to October),which stands on the ancient site of Carfax, the meeting point for the roads which cross Oxford, running north to south and east to west. Oxford - Walks and tours
Woodstock is located 13 km from Oxford, and is the site of Blenheim Palace. This architectural masterpiece, in Baroque style, is set in 850 hectares of parkland. The palace was a gift from Queen Anne to the Duke of Marlborough John Churchill in 1704, following Chuchill’s defeat of the French in the Battle of Blenheim. The palace was also the birthplace of the statesman Winston Churchill. The magnificent 16th Century parkland, contains ornate flowerbeds, fountains and magnificent monuments.
Maps and transportation
Getting to Oxford
The city of Oxford promotes a policy of traffic and pollution reduction and operates a highly efficient bus service. The city’s Park and Ride system, in force in a five-mile zone around Oxford, allows the motorist to park his car for free and to travel into the city centre by bus. Buses run along preferential lanes, avoiding traffic and subsequent delays. Children, accompanied by adults, travel free ( maximum 3 children to 1 adult ).
The city centre is pedestrianized and travelling around by car is practically impossible. The buses can approach the city centre but cannot arrive directly at the city’s designated shopping zone.
See also Oxford maps.
Practical information and resources
- Currency: English pound, sub-divided into 100 pence
- Electricity supply: 240 volts. The plugs require the use of an adaptor.
- Climate: May and June can be both cold and sunny. July and August are the only months when fine weather is guaranteed, with temperatures which vary from 25 °C to 28 °C. The temperature drops below freezing in winter with strong winds and rain. The wettest months are April, September and November.
- Opening hours: The banks are open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 3:30pm. Post offices are open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5:30 pm. Shops are open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm; some open until 10pm and others close at 5:30pm. Museums and galleries are open Monday to Saturday, from10am to 6pm and Sunday from 2pm to 6pm.
- Telephones: To call dial 0044, followed by the area code without the initial zero.
Oxford's nightlife is varied, and the city's two big universities have made the town a student paradise. There exist a large number of clubs open for the most until two o'clock. The most active nights are generally Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and the biggest nightclub is Oxford Brookes' SU. It host a range of nights, including on Wednesdays 'Foo-bar' and Fridays 'Pleasuredome'. Other popular clubs and places include but are certainly not limited to: The Bridge, Park End, The Coven II, DTMs, The Zodiac, Escape, Ocean and Collins.
Some places are more 'Rah' than others; The Zodiac's ' Fuzzy Ducks, for example, is a relatively cheap place, (voted by FHM 'the easiest place to pull in the UK', it often states in its flyers), compared to the Bridge, a more exclusive and expensive place that requires a decent dress code but unfortunately come with its rah crowd.
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