Cambridge started life as a Roman fort and then insignificant Saxon settlement, remaining a backwater until 1209 when the university was founded.
It is now an immaculately preserved city with curving alleyways, moss strewn courtyards and ornate gateways. Its streets are thronged with visitors, locals and students either shopping, cycling, wandering around or punting on the peaceful River Cam.
As for the sights, the university King's College Chapel is mandatory stop and is one of the most impressive buildings in the country. Viewing the colleges and punting along the 'Backs', where the river meanders behind the colleges is another treat especially if being punted along by a punter who knows the area - or at least is a convincing story teller.
As a centre of scholarly excellence, Cambridge has gone on to produce Nobel Prize winners, prime ministers, archbishops and immense number of scientists, poets and a host of other scribblers.
6 Sep 2008 - Cambridge, EnglandNever overlook the jewel on your own doorstep and Cambridge is certainly one. Architecturally splendid, compact and with much to see and do, today's visit included an open top, hop on - hop off bus with Daizy Dukes (though not wearing cut off denim shorts and not a car chase in sight), something I have only done in Naples, Barcelona and Stratford upon Avon - oh and also an obligatory punt on the Cam, something as obligatory as a chauffeured gondola ride in Venice - though I've never done it. Despite being there twice.
Cambridge is in fact Daizy's almost home city (not Hazard County) but as I've shown with Chester, it is easily possible to be a tourist in your home city and to learn things about places and things that have been overlooked in the past due to over familiarity.
One day isn't enough time to see Cambridge as there is plenty more to do other than see the medieval buildings in the city centre and the colleges of the world famous university. A tourist follow up is definitely in the offing though perhaps this can wait till summer '09.
Cambridge - Queen's College, Cloister Court I
Queen's takes it name from the wives of Henry VI (1448) and Edward IV (1465). Queen's is often singled out for having the most picturesque court in Cambridge and is an almost untouched example of late medieval brickwork. The Cloister Court is enclosed in brick and built around 1460.
Cambridge - Queen's College, Cloister Court II
Dominating the court on the North side is the Long Gallery of the President's Lodge dating from about 1597. This is the only substantial half timbered building in Cambridge. As evocative of it's medieval past as it may be, it should be noted that the timbers were actually plaster covered until 1911.
Cambridge - Queen's College, Gate Tower, the Old Court
This tower fronts the college and is part of the medieval college. Through the doorway is the street hence the gate to keep out the riff raff.
Cambridge - Kings College and Chapel
This photo of Kings College and its Chapel is viewed from the top of Great St Mary's church tower located in the centre of Cambridge and completed in 1608. From here, great views across the city can be had.
Cambridge - Clare College, Trinity Hall and the Old Schools
Next to Kings Chapel can be seen these three famous buildings. The nearest is The Old Schools, immediately behind is Trinity Hall and behind that is Clare College. The tower in the distance is the University Library.
Cambridge - Kings College Chapel, Wooden Screen
A fine example of Gothic architecture, Kings College Chapel is supreme in grandeur comparable with Chartres cathedral in France. Henry VI conceived it as an act of piety, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Began in 1446, the chapel was completed around 1516. The stained glass windows are actually the originals. The superbly carved wooden screen was a gift from Henry VIII and has Henry's initials entwined with those of Anne Boleyn - thus dating this at between 1533 and 1536 when she was executed.
Cambridge - Kings College Chapel, fan vaulting
The Chapel is 88 meters long, 12 meters across and 24 meters high. The fan vaulting was completed between 1512 and 1515 and is the largest of its kind in the world.
Cambridge - Kings College Chapel, the chapel organ
Originally constructed between 1686 and 1688, the magnificent organ has been rebuilt and developed over the years. The impressive intricacy of the fan vaulting can be also be seen more clearly.
Cambridge - Kings College Chapel wall carvings
The heraldic carvings are the armourial devices of the House of Tudor. Briefly, the emblems are: the Portcullis and Greyhound, badge of the Beaufort family (Lady Beaufort being the mother of Henry VII); the Tudor Rose, incorporating the red rose of the House of Lancaster and the white rose of the House of York, emphatically symbolising the Tudors' links with both Royal Houses; the Fleur de Lys reminds us that from Edward III onwards, the English Monarch was also Monarch of France (dropped by George III). The Coat of Arms is the Royal Arms of England; the Welsh Dragon representing Henry VII's father.
Cambridge - Corpus Christi College
With the court still in medieval form, the door to the chapel is flanked by two statues. On the right is Matthew Parker, college master in 1544 and Archbishop of Canterbury for much of the reign of Elizabeth I. Mr Parker was known for for his curiousity and endless questioning eventually gave us the term 'nosy parker'.
Cambridge - Punting on the Cam, Clare College Bridge
Taking a punt along the Backs is a great way to while away some time though it can be hectic on a weekend and/or hot day. Two notable bridges cross the area known as the Backs. This, at Clare's college, is ornamented with decorative balls - though I can't see them - and is the oldest (1639).
Cambridge - Punting on the Cam, Bridge of Sighs
The second notable bridge on the Backs is the Bridge of Sighs, built in 1831 and is named after the original in Venice although they have little architecturally in common beyond the fact that they are both covered. Incidentally, Oxford has its own Bridge of Sighs also.