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Top Rated Attractions in Oxford

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The Queen's College

The Queen's College is probably the finest example of classical architecture in Oxford. The college was founded in 1340, but the original buildings have gone, and a rebuilding program in the 17th and 18th Centuries resulted in the quadrangles we see today. The architecture of the front quadrangle is particularly noteworthy, and was heavily influenced by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. The screen wall that fronts the High Street also owes much to Hawksmoor, though it is attributed to a local Oxford mason William Townesend. This college is only open to the public on official city tours.

Merton College

Merton isn't one of the best known Oxford colleges, but it is one of the largest, and one of three colleges claiming to be the oldest in Oxford (the others are Balliol and University). Founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, the college has the oldest buildings in the entire university and the oldest surviving medieval library.

Christ Church

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.

Bodleian Library

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.

Magdalen College

Magdalen's impressive bell tower on High Street has become a landmark in the city. The 43 meter (144 foot) high tower was used as an observation post during the Civil War. Nowadays, every May Day morning the Magdalen College School Choir welcomes summer by singing from the top of the tower whilst several thousand people make merry in the street below. The college is also one of the most spacious in Oxford, with 100 acres of grounds, more than a mile of riverside walks and its own herd of deers.

Oxford Botanic Garden

Founded in 1621, the garden originally provided medicinal herbs. Today, the Oxford Botanic Garden has evolved into a vast collection of over 8,000 plants in a compact, beautifully laid-out setting accurately reflecting the appearance of a Tudor or Stuart college garden. Tucked away close to the edge of the central district, it is a breeding ground of research, conservation, and intensive studies centered around biology, botany, horticulture and gardening. Dissected into two major parts, together, the garden is like a breathing canvas that is home to an array of theme-based collections which include the 'Plants that Changed the World' exhibit. The troupe of glasshouses that are adorned with bursts of colors and scents lent by rarefied and exotic blooming species is particularly a subject of interest and intrigue to the visitors. Occupying a place of pride in the prestigious University of Oxford, the Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum is hence, a legendary amalgam of nature and education.

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