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Must Visit Attractions in Oxford

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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.

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.

Synonymous with a world-class education, Oxford University is one of the oldest in the Western world. The town of Oxford is essentially the university's campus, sprinkled with warm-hued historic buildings. Students are associated with individual colleges on enrollment which function as both dorms as well as social and educational spaces. Each of Oxford's colleges has an individual character of its own, though the scholarly atmosphere is common to all. Tradition and modernity go hand in hand at this illustrious institution where timeless customs survive along with contemporary research and education. Colleges like the gothic All Souls College, the architecturally rich Christ Church and the spired Bodleian Library & Weston Library are open to visitors.

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.

Carfax is where the four principal roads of Oxford meet. This 13th-century tower is now all that remains of the former town church of Oxford: St Martin's. The church became unsafe and was demolished in 1820, and then rebuilt and demolished again in 1896 as part of a road-widening scheme. The tower was actually 20 feet (6.09 meters) taller than we see it today, but because townspeople once amused themselves by throwing small coins at students from the top of the tower, the university authorities had it lowered. The two quarter jacks no longer strike the quarter hours, although visitors can often be seen patiently waiting for the clock to reach the appointed time!

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