Of all the cities I have visited in the United Kingdom, I am hard pressed to pin down a favourite. Each has its own charms and perks and points of interest for me, both historical and literary. But one city I found much joy in was Oxford. I felt as though I had stepped through Lucy Pevenisie's magical wardrobe or tumbled down the rabbit hole after Alice. Setting foot inside this magical university town is a must for any lover of history, architecture or literature. For me, entering Oxford was just like stepping into the books I have read that are set there or the movies, such as the Harry Potter series that have used Oxford as a set.
But a trip to Oxford - if you live near enough to drive there for a weekend or find yourself planning a trip around England - is well worth the visit, even if the literary figures and characters to be found there have not had a profound impact on you. And the hustle and bustle of London is gone as most students ride bikes around this beautiful university town. Literature and learning lives and breathes within Oxford, I could feel it everywhere I went.
There are several icons of Oxford that should not be missed. One of these is Oxford University's Bridge of Sighs, between two buildings of Hertford College. It is, I think, something that many people recognise from images on film and television and images of the university. It can also be found near another famous icon, the Radcliffe Camera. Built in 1737 and opened in April 1749, the Radcliffe Camera is a wonderful architectural spectacle set in the midst of the university. There is a majesty about the Radcliffe Camera, which houses the main undergraduate reading rooms. The Lower Reading Room is the home of Theology and English Literature whilst the Upper Reading Room has History, Archaeology and Anthropology. I did not have time to explore the interior of this remarkable building on my visit but would have liked to. Even just to capture the beauty of the outside is a must for anyone visiting Oxford from overseas or the surrounding area.
Oxford's many colleges, built over the centuriesm is home to some of the most famous and celebrated authors, such as CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, both of whom were members of the Inklings. A trip to Oxford is worth it to immerse yourself in the spirits of these two in the Eagle and Child - and Oscar Wilde to name a few. If you're more interested in architecture, Oxford various colleges have much to offer. With each college being built at different times throughout the Middle Ages, dating back to the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with the most recent college, Somerville College dating to 1879 and the oldest, University College, dating from 1249, the university covers over six hundred years of varying architectural types to enjoy.
Of all the colleges I visited whilst there, my personal favourite was Christ Church. Here I found Tolkien, Harry Potter's Great Hall and Lewis Carroll. But it was The Kilns, the home of C.S. Lewis and Narnia, that I felt the most of Oxford's magic.