a traveller's diary

Oxford

This is my favourite part of the journey, guys!

Oxford is a great town, full of history and culture. It’s difficult to put into words what I felt when I walked through Oxford’s streets. It’s a magical town!

Do you remember the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle? This wonderful city is first mentioned in this sort of diary, indeed it was built as a fortress by Alfred the Great.

After the Norman conquest, Oxford became one of the largest towns in England and its economy flourished. Later, it became a manufacturing town until it came to depend on students.

It was a theatre of religious conflicts, too. Indeed, when Bloody Mary wanted to restore Catholicism during her reign, three famous Protestants were tried in St Mary’s Church and condemned to death for heresy: two of them were burnt at the stake and they are commemorated by a monument named Martyrs’ Memorial.

When the civil war between royalists and roundheads broke out, the king made Oxford his headquarters even though many people supported Oliver Cromwell. At the end of 17th century many coffee houses were opened, so middle class and upper class men could meet there, have a drink, read newspapers and talk about different topics. From then on, it became an important manufacturing centre and a prosperous city but I think that it’s famous all over the world above all for its university, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, founded in 1167.

The activity leader explained that Oxford was chosen by Henry II as a university (instead of London, for example) because this town was  safer from foreign attacks. At the beginning, there was much tension between townspeople and students, because kings granted them some privileges which harmed the merchants of the town. Later, some academics went to Cambridge, where they founded what became to be known as the University of Cambridge.

Before going there, I believed there were different universities, but I discovered that there’s only one University and 38 colleges, and all resident students must be members both of a college and of the University.

We visited the oldest university museum in the world, called the Ashmolean museum; the name derives from the collection that Elias Ashmole gave Oxford University in 1677.

However, from then on the museum  has changed and now it’s the house of very important works, such as drawings by Michelangelo, Raffaello and Leonardo Da Vinci, a violin made by Antonio Stradivari, the posy rings that probably inspired Tolkien, the author of “The Lord of the Rings”, many galleries focusing on Ancient Greece, Egypt, Byzantine art…it was really exciting because I saw paintings, sculptures or objects I had studied, things I had only seen on pictures before!

Walking through the town, I could smell a scent of Italy looking at the Bridge of Sighs, which links two parts of Hertford college.

This is the Radcliff Camera, the earliest example of a circular library in England; its name derives from Dr Radcliffe, a physician who put all his money in this construction. It was our “meeting point” during the trip!

Finally, we visited Christ Church, one of the largest colleges of the University of Oxford and at the same time the Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Oxford.

After my short description, would you like to visit this town?

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