Oxford, England was first established as a town in the 9th century and flourished into a place of ornate architecture and advanced scholarship. Today, cutting-edge businesses stand alongside art museums, theaters and shopping districts, allowing the city to thrive economically, as well as culturally. A trip to Oxford, located about 50 miles northwest of London, is a chance to experience some of the United Kingdom’s most valuable treasures.
Even in medieval times, the founding of Oxford was up for debate; some said it was originally King Mempricius’ city Caer-Memre while others claimed the Trojans settled it. More recently, archeologists have discovered evidence suggesting Oxford was settled as early as 4,000 BC. Oxford University was officially established in the 13th century, and is today an internationally esteemed academic institution. Most of the university’s colleges and schools are located near the city’s center, so visitors can easily admire Oxford’s libraries, theaters and museums while they stroll around town.
For a comprehensive introduction to this quaint British city, consider taking an Oxford Official Guided Walking Tour
, offered by the tourism department. Join a public tour (offered every day of the year) or tailor a private tour (for one to 100 people) to really explore what piques your interest. The University and City Tour is the most popular, giving visitors an all-inclusive look at the city’s most noteworthy sites and traditions including architectural masterpieces and local legends. If you have a more specific interest in Oxford or British culture, check out trips like the Inspector Morse Tour where you’ll visit places encountered by the celebrated TV detective and the Oxford author who created him, Colin Dexter. Harry Potter
fans, especially kids, will love the Pottering in Harry’s Footsteps Tour. Learn more about official city tours at www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com/official-tours.
The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology boasts one of the finest and most diverse collections in the world. Until March 2012, you can check out Yakusha-e: Kabuki Prints, a Continuing Tradition, which explores the woodblock prints and elaborate costumes of Japanese theater from the 1600s to the present. At nearby Oxford Playhouse, guests will experience live theater at its best. The Playhouse features both British and international shows, as well as a variety of lectures, poetry readings, music concerts and dance performances. On January 21, 2012, British folk-rock band Fairport Convention will be kicking off its UK tour with a performance featuring songs from their latest album Festival Bell. Read about more upcoming events at the Ashmolean Museum and the Oxford Playhouse at www.ashmolean.org and www.oxfordplayhouse.com.
International travelers will find it convenient to fly into one of London’s larger airports such as Heathrow or Gatwick, then catch a train or bus to Oxford. Once you’re in the city, cabs and buses are readily available, and many attractions – such as shops, restaurants, museums and more – are within walking distance from the city’s center. Weather seldom poses a threat to visitors, even in winter, since England rarely experiences temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit; summers are also moderate with average temperatures under 78 degrees F.
There’s no better time to start planning a trip to beautiful Oxford. With so many treasures of both past and present, the city will have you exploring for days on end. For more information about Oxford, visit www.oxfordcity.co.uk and www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com.