Cambridge is famous for its university, currently one of the best in the world, and its scientists. It is the town where: the atom was first split, where the structure of DNA was discovered, where Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution, where Newton developed his theory of gravity, where the order of human DNA was first discovered, where the electron and neutron were discovered, where Stephen Hawking of black-hole fame used to live and work. It has been home to some of the great thinkers of the last 500 years.
What to see and do in Cambridge
Cambridge is small and the historic town centre can only be visited on-foot – no vehicles are allowed. Expect to walk for most or all of your visit. Better still, spend an hour on the river – easily the best way to see the beauty of Cambridge. There are no hills in the centre of town.
- Go punting in a boat on the river – it’s great fun and you get the see the best of Cambridge from the river. A group of 5 persons can go together for between GBP 30 – 50. Punts can be rented by the hour from three locations on the river. If you are new to Cambridge then go punting along the Backs of the colleges. Chauffeur punting is also available.
- King’s College chapel (1446) – wonderful gothic perpendicular architecture with an almost flat ceiling that was the wonder of its day. Famous Rubens painting “Adoration of the Magi” (1634) hangs over the alter.
- Mathematical bridge in Queen’s College – viewed from Silver Street bridge – this was the first bridge to ever be designed and built using mathematical principles.
- Gatehouse to Trinity College – statue of King Henry VIII holding an orb and old wooden chair-leg. Find-out the tradition surrounding the chair-leg.
- View of the river from King’s College bridge – great view of King’s Chapel, King’s College, Clare College and the Backs (gardens around the river). Not accessible if the College is closed.
- View of the river from Garrett Hostel Lane – nice view of Clare fellows garden, Clare bridge, Trinity Hall, Trinity gardens but the main reason to go here is that it is the most congested place on the river for punts and if anyone is going to fall in it is likely to be here and it is very funny to watch. Best viewed on a hot summer day when the river is busy. Be prepared to wait but you will not be disappointed.
- Magdalene bridge – lovely view of Magdalene College gardens and good place to sit and take refreshments.
- Corpus Christi College clock – corner of King’s Parade and Benet Street. New, modern design with flashing lights and a mechanical insect crawling over the top. Watch you don’t get injured by a cyclist if you step out into the street to take a photograph of this monster.
Cambridge is a pretty, old town and it is worth visiting because it’s small and you can easily walk around it in a day. It escaped the destruction of the second world war, unlike many other towns in England, so it has old buildings and it still has narrow, medieval streets.
The University is organised into subject departments (like Physics, Chemistry, English, History, Modern Languages) and into colleges (where students live and get some teaching). The colleges are a distinctive inter-disciplinary feature of Cambridge life and much older than the departments. Colleges are more like medieval monasteries than just places to sleep and eat. Many of the colleges are old (like Peterhouse or King’s College or Trinity College) and some are old and rich (like Trinity College). The older colleges nearly all have fine old buildings and it is these buildings that you will see if you come to visit Cambridge.
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