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Oxford is a very long established and important regional city on the river Thames in southern England, best known for its world-renowned University, which has been an important centre of learning in Europe since Medieval times.
As well as the the University buildings and many famous historical monuments Oxford also has an extensive shopping centre (partly pedestrianised), several museums and theatres, loads of restaurants, plenty of open garden and park areas, and everything else you would expect from a lively and wealthy university town.
It is easy to get your bearings in Oxford city centre. The city is quite compact, and based around the church tower that stands at the main crossroads in the town, where the High Street meets Saint Aldgates, Queen Street and Cornmarket. Pretty much all sights and shops are within an easy walk from this central point. (Carfax Tower was originally the tower for a church - the church is no longer standing, but you can climb to the top of the tower for a view across the Oxford rooftops)
The university buildings that dominate much of the centre of Oxford are very often important architecturally as well as setting the 'historical backdrop' for the city itself. We haven't attempted to list each university building here, but be sure to take a look at the main courtyard and buildings of University College, just off the High Street, and also those of Christ Church, Balliol and Trinity.
Some of the other most famous and interesting highlights among the buildings of Oxford include:
1) Radcliffe Camera, unusual (and highly regarded) circular Georgian building dating from 1737-1749, almost an icon for Oxford
2) Bodleain Library, very famous and extensive library, established in Oxford since medieval times. the museum occupies several buildings including radcliffe camera (above) and the Clarendon Building, a neo-classical building built from 1711.
3) Museums including the Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum
4) Oxford Botanic Garden: established almost 400 years, the Oxford botanic garden contains an exceptional variety of plants in both formal and informal settings covering almost two hectares
5) Christ Church Cathedral: modest in size yet beautifully proportioned 12th century cathedral
6) the Covered Market: open since the 18th century, with a wide selection of shops and stalls selling both food and non-food items
Although we only briefly mention a few of the highlights of the 'City of Dreaming Spires', I should emphasise that Oxford is a very fine city in all respects, one of our personal favourites in England, and a visit is highly recommended. Oxford Tourist Information Centre is in The Broad and has a great deal of information, including forthcoming events.
Map of Oxford and places to visit
Oxford places to visit
See more places nearby in the Oxfordshire guide