ON THE banks of the river Cam, in south-east England,
Cambridge is home to the second oldest university
in England, now ranking among the top five universities in the
world. It is easily accessible by rail and road. Parking can be at
a premium; so use of the city's Park and Ride system is advisable
for visitors coming by car.
What to do
Many of the university's 31 colleges are open to the public
during the day. The chapel of King's College is probably the city's
most spectacular building - a masterpiece of Tudor architecture, it
was begun by Henry VI and completed in 1515 under Henry VIII. It is
known to many around the world for its famous choir and its annual
Christmas broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols. The architecture is
stunning, and its altarpiece of Rubens's Adoration of the
Magi is not to be missed.
The chapel of St John's College is one of the finest Gothic
Revival chapels in the country, but there are many others, such as
Wren's chapel, in Emmanuel College, that merit a visit. Peterhouse,
the oldest college, was founded in 1284.
The university's Fitzwilliam Museum houses one of the country's
finest art collections, including works by Titian, Veronese, and
Rembrandt. Kettle's Yard, on Castle Street, is a delightful
collection of 20th-century art. Visitors are invited to ring the
bell in the afternoon, and ask to look around. The collection
includes paintings by Christopher Wood, David Jones, and Joan Miró,
as well as sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, set
alongside period furniture, glass, and ceramics.
A visit to Cambridge would not be complete without a walk around
the "Backs" of the colleges - particularly enjoyable on a summer
afternoon or a beautiful autumn day. Going on a punt on the river
is also a must. The university's Botanic Garden offers a splendid
collection of plants.
Cambridge offers shopping for all tastes and budgets. The city's
many secondhand bookshops have treasures for those who enjoy
finding them. The outdoor market on Market Square is a
food-shopper's paradise, but offers much more than just
Where to eat and drink
A university city would not be complete without a wide range of
pubs, coffee shops, and eateries. The city's smallest pub is the
Radegund, on King Street, which has a delightfully eccentric
atmosphere. Among the many coffee shops, Clown's, also on King
Street, offers a warm Italian welcome. Sticky Beaks, on Hobson
Street, is a good lunchtime alternative to the many chain outlets
now spread around the city centre.
Beyond the city centre, Grantchester is a delightful village on
the river Cam (or Granta) with connections with many historical
characters, including Lord Byron and Virginia Woolf. Ely, with its
spectacular cathedral, is a short train ride away, as are Saffron
Walden and Audley End.