When people hear the name of this town called Oxford, they immediately associate this part of England to the university. But the colleges of this world-renowned university is scattered around a town of few thousand people most are either students, faculty or staff that works at the university. So what do these people do when there are not either studying or working at the university. What else is in this town other than the university?
Walking a bit more around town after doing a walking tour, I found other interesting places and buildings people can visit in the city center of Oxford, some of which are open to the public. There are even some interesting sites that does not require admission. All you have to do is look. A good place to start is to go to the visitor’s center located at Broad Street to make inquiring about places and to get a map of Oxford.
There are buildings in the city center of Oxford that is older than the buildings of the university itself and you will find these when you see a lot tourists in front of it photographing these places. One of these buildings is a half-timbered Tudor-style building with a thatch roof located at the corner of Ship Street and Broad Street.
Another place people visit at Oxford is the Museum of Natural History located at Broad Street. Rumor has it that they have a blackboard once belonging to Albert Einstein with his writings and calculations still written on it and the museum kept it this way since. The university intentionally left the board as it was from the day he died.
If you feel like shopping, you have the usual English and European retail chain store in Oxford. But, you can always checkout the Covered Market were you can find artisan shops, independent merchants and cafes offering handcrafted products and food.
Another important landmark in Oxford is called the Ashmolean Museum. This is an impressive museum in Oxfordshire with a large collection of Egyptian artifacts with Roman and Greek statues, Asian relics and porcelain from China and Japan. There were also paintings and portraits by Rembrandt and Impressionists artists. During my visit, there was a special exhibition happening at the Ashmolean which required admission fee, otherwise the rest of the museum is free to the public.
Just a few yards from the Ashmolean Museum is a monument – an obelisk with a neo-Gothic design commemorating 16th century Oxford Martyrs who were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford back in 1555. It was hard not to notice this particular landmark at it stands in the middle of a four-way street.
The beginnings of Oxford did not start out at the university but at Oxford Castle. Located just outside the city center, I found this landmark when I was walking back to the train station on New Park Road. Judging from the small amount of people I saw there, it is one of the least visited landmark of Oxford, but it is still an important structure. It has great history to tell us.
Oxford University is not like one of those university where their buildings are confined in one compound. The colleges of this university, and there are many are scattered around the city center and are centuries old. Sometimes we are so pre-occupied with what we’re looking for that we forget what is in front of us. When traveling especially to a new places, it pays to keep your eyes open for the unexpected.