Oxford Architecture Guide

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Medieval Oxford is perhaps best known as home to Oxford University—one of the oldest universities in the world. But the City of Dreaming Spires is also renowned for its collection of historic, architectural marvels. Here are a few must-see buildings to admire when visiting Oxford.

Christ Church College
One of Oxford’s most famous assets is its prestigious name-sharing university, whose magnificent college buildings, libraries, and museums boast an architectural history dating back centuries. Christ Church is among the most visited colleges in Britain, attracting admirers from across the world keen to see features such as the Meadow Building and the Chapter House for themselves.

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral is unique within the Church of England because it’s both the cathedral of the diocese of Oxfordshire and the chapel of Christ Church College. Built in the 12th century, the cathedral boasts a Norman choir, nave, and tower, and beautiful stained-glass windows.

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
With spectacular neoclassical frontage, the Ashmolean Museum is the world’s first university museum, dating back to the 17th century. The museum houses valuable treasures including Guy Fawkes’ lantern, an 18th-century violin made by master instrument-maker Antonio Stradivari, and red-chalk sketches of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.

Sheldonian Theatre
Oxford University alumnus and great British architect Sir Christopher Wren created some of the university’s most iconic buildings, including the Sheldonian Theatre. Built in 1664 and inspired by the Roman Theatre of Marcellus, the Sheldonian was only Wren’s second-ever commission. It features an eight-sided cupola from which you can admire sweeping views over the rooftops and spires of Oxford.

Radcliffe Camera
Constructed in the mid–18th century to house a science library, the Radcliffe Camera ranks among Oxford’s most striking buildings. Rad Cam, as it’s known locally, was built in the English Palladian style in a cobbled courtyard within the Bodleian Library complex. It’s a working part of Oxford University and, as such, visitors are not permitted inside—but that doesn’t stop the many keen admirers from passing by to take a look.
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