Christ Church is the most famous Oxford college, probably the grandest and certainly the most photographed. Founded as Cardinal College in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey, the college became Christ Church in 1545. The college chapel, which is also the cathedral of the Oxford diocese, contains the reconstructed shrine of St. Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford, a rich variety of stained and painted glass including works by Abraham van Linge and Edward Burns-Jones and a rare panel depicting the martyrdom of St. Thomas A. Becket.
In the heart of Oxford, just off Broad Street, lies one of the oldest libraries in all of Europe, the Bodleian Library, which was established in 1602. As an Oxford library, the Bodleian Library boasts of a splendid collection of over 11 million volumes of books, journals, magazines, audio recordings, manuscripts and more and the library is amongst the largest in all of the United Kingdom. Functioning primarily as a reference library, visitors or members cannot rent out most of the material and usually must be kept within the reading rooms. Nonetheless, a visit to this library is truly a treat for a visitor, as, besides the marvelous architecture and the collection, the library also plays host to exhibitions and other events.
Standing over the entrance to the most famous Oxford college, Tom Tower is a landmark in itself. This imposing octagonal tower with a lead-covered cupola was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1682. It was constructed on top of an archway and turrets dating from the 16th Century and houses Great Tom - the loudest bell in Oxford. Weighing more than seven tons, the bell chimes 101 times at 9.05p every evening to recall not only the 101 students residing in Christ Church when the tower was completed, but also the time by which they were supposed to be in bed.
Dating as far back as the 11th Century, the long-standing Oxford Castle is much revered for its unmarred history. Birthed on the grounds of an erstwhile Anglo-Saxon settlement, this medieval castle once commanded much military as well as cultural significance. It was built on the orders of a Norman nobleman, hence being a stirring window into the military, penal and administrative legacy of Normandy. However, today, the castle and its many ruins lie nestled in the heart of Oxfordshire in all their antiquated glory. Among the medieval remains of the castle is a motte, a cavernous crypt chamber adorned with Norman capitals and columns and the enchanting St George's Tower. Also renowned for its role as a prison, this ruinous castle speaks of a forgotten heritage interweaved with timeless lores and legend. What is more, is that the castle offers tours led by colorful and costumed characters. Over the years, the castle has been preserved and is something of a time capsule, entrancing visitors with poignant tales of its eventful existence.
Blenheim Palace has been the home of the Dukes of Marlborough since 1704, when Queen Anne gave a ruined royal manor and dukedom to John Churchill as a gift for his victory at the battle of Blenheim on the Danube. Winston Churchill also happened to be born here - look out for the Churchill exhibition, which includes the bed he was born on, and many personal belongings, including books, photographs and letters. His tomb is in the graveyard of St Martin's church in nearby Bladon. The palace also sometimes plays host to major concerts.
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is situated midway between Oxford and Cheltenham and set out on 160 acres (64 hectares) of landscaped parkland. This park offers a wealth of attractions for all ages to enjoy. White rhinos, Asiatic lions and birds of prey are just some of the regular attractions but there are also many special one-off events, such as car rallies that take place here. Families will love the cafeteria, adventure playground, picnic areas and narrow-gauge railway which runs from April until October.
City Sightseeing Oxford is a the perfect way for visitors to Oxford to get a first hand look at all the important places in town. The tour lasts for around an hour with well informed guides showing tourists all the best places in Oxford right from famous restaurants to hotels, colleges as well as important landmarks. Most notably are sites like Magdalen College, Broad Street and the Sheldonian Theatre amongst others. Tickets can be purchased at the bus itself. Tours leave every 15 minutes subjected to traffic conditions.
Angus Library and Archive is situated alongside Regent's Park College of Oxford. Presently, it hold more than 70,000 objects including journals, pamphlets, books, association and church records, manuscript letters, church histories and other historical items dating back to the 15th Century till today. Most of the items found at Angus Library and Archive depict the eventful past of Baptist movement which started in the 17th Century. A major part of the collection has been donated by Dr. Joseph Angus who served as the college principal between 1849 and 1893.
Known as 'The Taylorian' and completed in 1844, this building, with its impressive classical features inside and out, houses lecture theaters, offices and the main libraries and reading rooms of the Modern Languages Faculty, and is used mainly by students of the university. The female statues on top of the four Ionic columns represent France, Italy, Germany and Spain, whose languages are the main ones taught in the building. Please note that this building is not open to the public.
Established as a cenotaph to Edward Bouverie Pusey, a prominent figure in the iconic Oxford Movement, Pusey House was built in the year 1884. Edward Pusey also served at Oxford University as a Hebrew professor. The chapel's architecture is credited to Temple Moore while several additions like a baldacchino were created by Ninian Comper. Pusey House is also home to a historical and theological library containing nearly 80,000 volumes of Pusey's historical as well as theological volumes' collection. Today, the organization boasts of a devout student force from the graduate as well as the undergraduate courses.
A boat trip along the Thames is a fine way to see Oxford and get a special sense of its history. Oxford River Cruises offers a selection of public cruises (the River Experience, Alice in Wonderland, Lunchtime Picnic Cruise), which depart from the restaurant at No1 Folly Bridge. You can join one of these, or order your own bespoke cruise, with or without food and wine, to enjoy with a group of friends. Their private boat hire (punts and rowing skiffs) operates from a base in Port Meadow, one of the city's loveliest open green spaces. The style is luxurious and intimate, and the stories, especially that of Oxford mathematician Lewis Carroll and his child friend Alice Liddell, turning Oxford's river into Wonderland, inspiring. For more details, call ahead on the toll free number +44 845 226 9396