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Top Rated Attractions in Oxford

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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.

Tom Tower

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.

Oxford Castle

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

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 & Gardens

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.

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