Oxford England is known as the "City of Dreaming Spires," a description imagined by the poet Matthew Arnold. He was referring both to the harmonious ensemble of gracious architecture on the campus of Oxford University, as well as to the panorama of soaring spires presented by the city from a distance. Most of the spires belong to buildings on the campus of Oxford University, which is the oldest (possibly dating as far back as the 11th century) university in the English-speaking world.
Oxford UK is just over 50 miles to the northwest of London, and can easily be reached by car or train as a day excursion. However, it is a beautiful city with many attractions, and is well worth a longer stay. There are many choices for Oxford hotels, including the historic MacDonald Randolph Hotel, a five-star property built in 1864. It's located on Beaumont Street in the heart of the city center near the Oxford Playhouse and within a block of Trinity College and Balliol College. There are also cheap hostels in the city, and just about everything in between.
The Colleges of Oxford University are actually among the many attractions of the city. Many of the Oxford England Colleges allow visitors onto their grounds during certain times and seasons. Some do not allow visitors at any time, and those that do generally restrict visitors during the school terms or during exam time. Check with each individual college. Magdalen College and Balliol College are both quite tourist friendly, with the most regular visiting hours. Christ Church appeared in Brideshead Revisited and the first Harry Potter film. It has also been prominently featured in the Colin Dexter Inspector Morse television series. Colin Dexter is a native of the city and still lives here.
One of the Oxford UK architectural landmarks is the Radcliffe Camera, a graceful Palladian building built between 1737 and 1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library. Today it is a university reading room. The Bodleian Library (the university's main library of which the Radcliffe Camera is part) is also a famous landmark. It is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and the second largest in Britain after the British Library in London. Another university landmark is the Hertford Bridge, a skyway bridge over New College Lane that is often called the Bridge of Sighs, because of its supposed resemblance to that bridge in Venice Italy. It actually more closely resembles Venice's Rialto Bridge. The Christ Church Cathedral is one of England's most beautiful cathedrals.
The university in Oxford England is also a reason that several fine museums can be found here. The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest is the country's oldest public museum and has an impressive collection of ancient art from Egypt, the Middle East, Greece, and Rome. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is an internationally respected facility housed in a superb example of Victorian architecture. In 1860, one of the world's most important debates was held here. Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, argued against Darwin's theory of evolution and the biologist Thomas Huxley defended it. It also houses the remains of what is believed to be the last specimen of the extinct dodo bird. You can also visit the historic Pitt Rivers Museum, the Modern Art Museum, and the Christ Church Picture Gallery with its extraordinary collection of Old Masters.
One of the most popular things to do in Oxford UK during the summer is punting on the River Thames, which involves propelling a small wooden boat along with a pole. You can hire boats and do the punting yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. There are also river barge cruises available that last for several days. The city has a long tradition of brewing, and several of the colleges had their own breweries up until the late 19th century. While there are no longer any major breweries in the city, it boasts a number of excellent traditional pubs.