Cambridge is one of the oldest university cities (3rd oldest surviving University) in the world. Having never visited the city before, I recently had the privilege of spending a weekend in the city accompanied by a good friend and member of the Cambridge University Alumni as my guide. The weather was glorious and the sun bounced off the beautiful old buildings which virtually drip with centuries of world changing history. During our tour we decided to hit all of the most popular tourist spots and below is my guide to the top 5.Kings College Cambridge
Probably the most famous College of the 31 Colleges that make up Cambridge University is Kings College. If you are only going to visit 1 college in Cambridge (though we recommend you see as many as possible!) this is the one to see. After queueing for entrance and paying a small fee, the first place to see is the spectacular King's College Chapel. This breathtaking chapel took over a century to build and the enormous vaulted ceiling creates some of the most phenomenal haunting acoustics imaginable. The choir here perform on a regular basis and the incredible organ is usually playing if the choir are not.
After the chapel it is possible to walk around the grounds (not on the grass!) of King's College and view the incredible architecture. It's great fun to walk down to the Cam and watch the punters travelling up and down the river. This area is known as the 'backs' and from here you can clearly view the backs of a number of Cambridge's Colleges including next doors Queen's College.
Punting on the Cam
Due to the heat of the summer's day, we elected to take an extremely enjoyable and relaxing evening river punt which is essential for every visitor to Cambridge. Relaxing with cold drinks and snacks (or Pimms if you wish to really immerse yourself in tradition), we elected to take a College backs tour which took us right through the centre of Cambridge. We also decided to take a punt which had a guide to do the punting and explain the history and stories of all the sights that we were seeing. It can be cheaper to hire a punt and have a go at punting yourself but there is a strong possibility that you may fall into the river which is refreshing on a hot day but not to everyone's taste!
Our tour took us below the world famous 'Bridge of Sighs' and is the only way to see the famous bridge as a tourist. The only similarity between this bridge and it's Venetian namesake is the fact that it's covered but it is very pretty none the less. We also heard the story of a group of Cambridge engineers who under the darkness of night hung a small car from the bridge at a height that made it look as though it was driving along the river Cam which I very much enjoyed.
The Round Church
The Round Church is one of the oldest buildings in Cambridge. Though fairly unspectacular compared with some of the university buildings surrounding the church, the church which was built in 1130AD is uniquely shaped and it's hard to begin to imagine the world-changing historic figures who have walked through the doors over the centuries. Entrance to the church provides visitors with a not only the chance to have a look around the building but a short video (translated into different languages) which gives an overview of the history of not only the church but the development of Cambridge from it's humble beginnings as a bridge over the river Cam to the world famous university city we see today.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
With a background in art and a deep love of art in (most) of it's forms, I have visited some of the world's great museums and therefore had a fairly low expectation of this museum. However, my low expectation served to make the experience of the Fitzwilliam Museum even greater as I wandered around the fascinating exhibits containing works by French Impressionists such as Monet, Degas and Renoir as well as well as Manuscripts, ancient artefacts from around the world. The Museum is free and highly recommended.
The final visit of our tour was to Ely Cathedral which sits in the neighbouring town of Ely. This beautiful old cathedral is really quite breathtaking and regarded as one of the finest cathedrals in our country. After a walk around the Cathedral we entered the chapel in time for an evensong service. This chapel in which this took place with the cathedral choir was hauntingly beautiful as the echoes of the incredible choir vibrated all around the room. The acoustics were spine tingling and the pink light of the setting sun lit up the white marble in all the colours of the rainbow. If you have chance to visit this cathedral and attend a service, it is absolutely not to be missed.
Find out more about Cambridge here
By Ruth Lancey
Date: 2017-11-28 13:17:39