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Cambridge is a university city in Cambridgeshire in England. It is a city of crocuses and daffodils on the Backs, of green open spaces and cattle grazing only 500 yards from the market square. The Cambridge of Brooke, Byron, Newton and Rutherford, of the summer idyll of punts, 'bumps', cool willows and May Balls is worth seeing.
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Points of Interest in Cambridge
Cambridge University consists of a number of semi-independent colleges, many central, some up to 3 miles from the town centre (traditionally measured from Great St. Mary's church). The following are a good selection for sightseeing. Most of the colleges within the central area are worth a look, if you have the time.
Some, but not all, colleges charge for entrance. Colleges are typically closed to visitors during the University exam period, at the end of May and the first week of June.
Please remember to be respectful when visiting the colleges. They are students' homes for much of the year, and the workload and pressure at the University can be immense. Do not enter buildings you are not explicitly invited to, do not stare into people's windows, and be polite when taking photographs. Always remember that the colleges' role is first and foremost that of academic institutions; they are not there for tourists, and it is rude to do anything which impedes or inconveniences the people who live and work in them.
- King's College and King's College Chapel, King's Parade, +44 1223 331212. College grounds open term-time M-F 9.30AM-3.30PM, Sa 9.30AM-3.15PM, Su 1.15PM-2.15PM and 5PM-5.30PM (summer only). Out of term M-Sa 9.30AM-4.30PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Grounds closed during exams (late April to mid June) though Chapel is open. Chapel opening times vary, ring for details. The most visited attraction in Cambridge, the architecture of King's College Chapel towers above the town and its world-famous choir have spread its reputation across the globe. £4.50 adults, £3 children/students.
- Queens' College, ☎ +44 1223 335511. Silver Street/Queens' Lane. Open approx 10AM-4.30PM, see website or ring for updated times. Closed mid-May to mid-June. Founded by two Queens - Margaret of Anjou in 1448 and Elizabeth Woodville in 1465, the College stretches across both sides of the Cam, linked by the famous Mathematical Bridge. The myth goes that it was designed by Isaac Newton without the use of pins, screws, nuts or bolts, but when disassembled, the fellows and students couldn't figure out how to put it back together again. This is sadly false, the bridge dates from 1749, 22 years after Newton's death. The stunning medieval Old Hall is also worth a visit. £1.30 (includes printed guide). Free mid-October to mid-March.
- Trinity College. Large attractive courtyard and library designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The interior of the Wren Library is particularly beautiful and features medieval bibles, items from the possession of Isaac Newton, original manuscripts by Wittgenstein, a Winnie-the-Pooh manuscript by A.A. Milne, and notes by Bertrand Russell, among other things. Even when the college is closed to visitors, the library may still be accessible from Queens Road on the other side of the River Cam.
- St Johns College. Formally the St Johns Hospital (13th century) before being refounded as a college in 1511, this college houses the oldest academic building in Cambridge (the "School of Pythagoras"). It has a number of large courtyards, and has the Cambridge "Bridge of Sighs".
- Jesus College. Attractive grounds and sculptures scattered throughout.
- Pembroke College. The 3rd oldest college in Cambridge, founded in 1347 by the Countess of Pembroke, Marie de St Paul, is well known for its beautiful gardens.
- Clare College. The 2nd oldest college with pretty gardens, courtyard and the oldest river bridge in Cambridge.
- Peterhouse. The oldest Cambridge college was founded in 1284 and has two large gardens, the Scholars' Garden and the Deer Park, both of which students and visitors can walk all over (unusual for Cambridge colleges!).
- Saint Catharine's College. St Catharine's College was founded in 1473 by Robert Wodelarke, Provost of King’s College. The College was christened in honour of the patron saint of learning and was originally known as Katharine Hall. It was largely rebuilt in the 17th century with work on the Main Court beginning in 1673; the Chapel was completed in 1704. In spite of its modest size, the college’s three-sided brick Main Court is almost unique among Cambridge Colleges and deserves a short stop while strolling down Trumpington Street. The College is in the very centre of Cambridge next to King's College and facing Corpus Christi College.
- Homerton College. Homerton College is one of the newer colleges, though it has existed for centuries as an academic institution and is architecturally very pretty, with extensive and tranquil grounds and a picturesque orchard. It is in a beautiful location on Hills Road, about fifteen minutes walk from the town centre. The Victorian hall here is one of the most beautiful in Cambridge and definitely worth a visit. Free to enter, so worth the walk to see.
- Corpus Christi College. Uniquely, founded by Cambridge locals (from two town guilds). Its Old Court (to the left of the main entrance, behind St Bene't's church) dates from the 1350s and is the oldest courtyard in Cambridge. Old Court rooms have no plumbing, so you may occasionally be treated to a student walking across the court in their dressing gown to get to the toilet complex.
Parks and Gardens
- The Backs. The gardens by the river behind various colleges. Heading downstream from Kings you can pass through the gardens of Clare, Trinity and St John's Colleges (which has the "Bridge of Sighs").
- Botanic Garden of Cambridge University. Bateman St CB2 1JF. Open 10AM-4PM Nov-Jan, 10AM-5PM Feb and Oct, 10AM-6PM Mar-Oct, closed 25 Dec to 3 Jan. +44 1223 336265. A relaxing way to spend a few hours, away from the hustle and bustle of the colleges and canals. Open to the public since 1846 this garden hosts some important botanic collections amongst its 10,000 or more species. Adult admission £2.50, free Mon-Fri in winter (November through February).
- Jesus Green. Originally proposed as the site for Cambridge's main railway station, Jesus Green is a broad piece of parkland immediately adjacent to Midsummer Common. Provides a quiet retreat away from the city centre and also has grass and hard tennis courts as well as an outdoor swimming pool. Plans are underway for redevelopment of this much loved park in Cambridge.
- Parker's Piece. Parkers Piece is one of the best known open spaces in Cambridge. Located in the centre of the City it is bordered by Park Terrace, Regent Terrace, Parkside and Gonville Place.
- Christ's Pieces. Christ's Pieces is situated in the centre of the City, bordered by the bus station, Christ's College, Emmanuel Road and King Street. It is of typical Victorian park design with tree lined avenues. The formal seasonal bedding displays planted in the 'petal beds' near Emmanuel Road, provide all year round colour. There are also large ornamental shrub beds around the perimeter to add further year round colour and interest.
Museums and Galleries
- The Fitzwilliam Museum, ☎ +44 1223 332900, e-mail: email@example.com. Trumpington Street. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM. Su 12PM-5PM. The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge and is on Trumpington Street. It receives around 300,000 visitors annually. The museum was founded in 1816 with the bequest of the library and art collection of the VIIth Viscount FitzWilliam. The bequest also included £100,000 "to cause to be erected a good substantial museum repository". The "Founder's Building" itself was designed by George Basevi, completed by C. R. Cockerell and opened in 1848; the entrance hall is by Edward Middleton Barry and was completed in 1875. The Egyptian Galleries at the Fitzwilliam Museum re-opened in 2006 after a two-year, £1.5 million programme of refurbishment, conservation and research. The museum has five departments: Antiquities; Applied Arts; Coins and Medals; Manuscripts and Printed Books; and Paintings, Drawings and Prints. Highlights include masterpieces by Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Picasso and a fine collection of 20th century art. Admission free.
- Kettle's Yard, ☎ +44 1223 352124, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Castle Street. House open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays 1.30 - 4.30PM (1st weekend in April - last weekend in September); Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays 2PM - 4PM (1st weekend in October - last weekend in March). Gallery open Tuesday to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 11.30AM - 5.00PM. Kettle's Yard is the former home of Jim and Helen Ede and houses the fine collection of art, from the early part of this century, which they gave to the University. Artists represented include Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, David Jones, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. There is a separate gallery for exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, which are widely advertised and detailed on the website. Each exhibition is accompanied by a lively programme of talks, workshops and discussion groups for all ages. Music at Kettle's Yard: Kettle's Yard presents programmes of chamber music concerts and contemporary music concerts. Admission free.
- The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, ☎ +44 1223 333456. Downing Street. Monday to Friday, 10AM - 1PM and 2PM - 5PM; Saturday 10AM - 4PM. Closed on Bank Holidays. One of the University's many hidden treasures, and actually its oldest museum, the Sedgwick is packed full of fossils with more than 1 million in its collection. These range from the earliest forms of life from more than 3000 million years ago, to the wildlife that roamed the Fens less than 150,000 years ago. Displays include a gallery of minerals and gemstones, the world's largest spider, rocks collected by Charles Darwin on the 'Voyage of the Beagle', dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Triassic, and fossils from the local area including a hippopotamus from the nearby Barrington gravel pits. The museum organises many activities, so it's always a good idea to check its website. Admission free.
- The University Museum of Zoology, e-mail: email@example.com. The New Museum Site, Downing Street, +44 1223 336650. Monday to Friday 10AM - 4.45PM (closed on Bank Holidays). Open Saturdays mornings 10AM - 1PM from June to September. CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT UNTIL 2016. The University Museum of Zoology displays a great range of recent and fossil animals, emphasising the structural diversity and evolutionary relationships among the animal kingdom. The collections were accumulated from 1814 onwards, and include many specimens collected by Charles Darwin. To find the museum, look for the spectacular whale skeleton, hung above the entrance and visible through the archway from Downing Street. Admission free.
- The Whipple Museum of the History of Science. Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane, just off Pembroke Street, +44 1223 330906. Monday to Friday 12.30PM - 4.30PM. Closed at weekends, bank holidays and occasionally over the Christmas period. Visitors are advised to check beforehand by contacting the Museum. The Whipple Museum is a pre-eminent collection of scientific instruments and models, dating from the Middle Ages to the present. Included in this outstanding collection are microscopes and telescopes, sundials, early slide rules, pocket electronic calculators, laboratory equipment and teaching and demonstration apparatus. Admission free.
- Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, ☎ +44 1223 333516, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Downing Street. Tuesday to Saturday 2PM - 4.30PM. Closed at Christmas and Easter and on most public holidays. Possible extended summer opening - please telephone or email for details. The Museum contains large and important collections of archaeological and anthropological material from all parts of the world. The archaeological collections from all periods include significant collections from Palaeolithic Europe, Asia and Africa; Precolumbian Central and South America; early civilizations of the Mediterranean; and British archaeology. The world-renowned anthropological collections include important collections from the South Seas, West Africa and the Northwest Coast of North America; historic collections from the 18th century; and extensive photographic collections from the 19th and 20th centuries. Admission free.
- Museum of Classical Archaeology, ☎ +44 1223 330402. Sidgwick Avenue, Open Monday-Friday: 10AM to 5PM; Saturday: 10AM to 1PM; closed Sunday. Admission is free. The Museum of Classical Archaeology is one of the few surviving collections of plaster casts of Greek & Roman sculpture in the world. The collection of about four hundred and fifty casts is open to the public and housed in a purpose-built Cast Gallery on the first floor of the Classics Faculty. Although nothing here is an original, nearly all the well-known (and not so well-known) works from the Classical world can be seen together under one roof. The reserve research collections consist of another two hundred plaster casts, Greek vases, pottery sherds, and epigraphic squeezes. These can be consulted by arrangement.
- The Folk Museum. Castle Street Tuesday-Sunday (also Mondays in Summer) 10.30-5.30. The only local social history museum in Cambridge and is the most comprehensive collection representing life in the South Cambridgeshire villages. Housed in an old Coaching House, the museum is home to some 20,000 objects representing the history of local life away from the University.
- The Polar Museum. Lensfield Road Tuesday-Saturday (Also Sundays on Bank Holiday Weekends) 10.00 -4.00. A short walk from the Fitzwilliam Museum is The Polar Museum. It was a finalist for The Museum of the Year Prize in 2011. Its extraordinary collection covers the Arctic and Antarctic, native peoples and the Golden Age of Exploration of heroes such as Scott and Shackleton. It also serves as the National Memorial to Scott and his men, as well as being the public front of The Scott Polar Research Institute which continues their scientific work. Special events, exhibitions, tours, children's activities and behind the scenes Open Days are held quite often.
- The University Library. West Road Monday-Friday 09.00-6.00, Saturday 09.00-16.30. Exhibition of treasures and highlights from the Library's world-class collections of manuscripts and printed books. Two major exhibitions are held each year (roughly January to June and September to December): check website for details.
- Museum of Technology. Cheddars Lane Every day except Tuesdays. An exhibition of items from Cambridge's industrial past based at the city's old sewage pumping station on Riverside. Exhibits include the working steam and gas powered pumps, printing technology and items from several decades of electronics manufacturing within the city. The museum holds several 'steaming' days a year, usually on bank holidays, when engines and pumps may be seen working.
The history of Cambridge is entwined with that of the Church of England. The colleges (see above) all have chapels which can be visited, but town churches also offer a rich insight into the history of the town and university, and are usually free. Even if you aren't interested in places of worship, they are well worth a few minutes attention and are peaceful places to enjoy.
- The Round Church - open daily (admission £1.50 adults, children free). Dating back to 1130, this is one of only four medieval round churches in England, and one of the most visited buildings in Cambridge. Besides the remarkable architecture, the building contains historical exhibitions and hosts occasional concerts and lectures. Tour guides based there offer walking tours of Cambridge which are highly rated.
- Great St Mary's - open daily, free. This fine example of 15th-Century English Perpendicular architecture is on the market square opposite King's College. As well as viewing the beautiful nave, visitors can climb the bell tower (admission £2.50) for spectacular views over the town.
- St. Benet's. Tucked away in the lanes is this tiny 11th-century church. Its main attraction is a Saxon arch in the nave. One of several churches in town with bells, this one is a good location to see English bellringing. The times are unpredictable and not published but Sunday afternoons are your best bet. Please be quiet, ringing takes a surprising amount of concentration and the ringers can do without distractions.
- All Saints, Jesus Lane. Open daily, free. This 19th century church is no longer used for worship but has been preserved as a rare example of the Arts and Crafts movement, featuring a highly ornate interior by Bodley, and windows and wall decorations by William Morris.
- St. Andrew's, Chesterton - a walk from town, but with an impressive (if somewhat faded) medieval Doom painting around the chancel arch, showing the Judgement and giving worshippers good reason to pay attention to the sermon.
- World War II Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial. Three miles west of the city on Highway A-1303. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The cemetery is on land donated by Cambridge University and is the final resting place for 3,812 American military dead lost during the War in the Atlantic and Northern Europe. A monument is inscribed with the names of 5,126 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. The chapel contains mosaic maps of World War II campaigns and a mosaic memorial to American Air Forces on the ceiling. Free.
- Imperial War Museum Duxford. This WWII airfield south of Cambridge houses the Imperial War Museum's aircraft collection, and is the largest aviation museum in Europe. As well as military aircraft, it houses a large collection of non-military aircraft including a Concorde. There is also a land warfare museum attached that has many examples of armoured vehicles from the First World War onwards. It really a full day for a proper visit. Bus Citi 7 takes about an hour to get there from the city centre or the bus station. Make sure that you board the Citi 7 bus that says Duxford as the Citi 7 bus also goes to two other places. Also note the time of the last bus to leave the museum as later buses go to the village of Duxford but not out to the museum.