Cambridge is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It is also one of the world's most architecturally stunning and iconic. Cambridge is located 55 miles north of London and is very much worth a visit if one is in London. Cambridge University is split into 31 architecturally stunning colleges - the most famous of these is Kings College.

While the United States doesn't have any universities anywhere near 800 years old, it does have historic universities with campuses that attract many visitors. The University of Virginia is famous for the Neoclassical architecture of its Academical Village. It was designed by none other than Thomas Jefferson the only university in the USA to be World Heritage Listed.

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What to Know About Cambridge

In Roman times, Cambridge was an important trading center - as well as during the Viking age. The small city there today has a population of around 160,000 and is dominated by the University of Cambridge. The university was founded in 1209 and today the city's skyline is dominated by college buildings.

The name "Cambridge" stems from the bridge over the River Cam - it's a "Cam Bridge."

  • Founded: the Univesity of Cambridge of Founded in 1209

For the book worms out there, the buildings of the University of Cambridge include the Cambridge University Library that's one of the largest legal deposit libraries in the world.

  • Getting There: Cambridge Station Is Less Than An Hour From London King's Cross Railway Station

To soak up the tradition of the university vibe in this historic university town, check out the bustling market square or enjoy a lazy punt down the River Cam. Other things to see include the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, or admire the shining 24-carat gold Grasshopper - the Corpus Clock - on Corpus Christi College's Taylor Library.

Related: 20 Places Everyone Loved To Travel To 10 Years Ago (But Not Anymore)

Visiting Cambridge's Colleges

Most visitors would like to visit some of Cambridge's colleges. Many of them are free to enter and, conveniently, Cambridge Tourist Information has put together a Google sheets document detailing the opening information, charges, and web links for the various colleges. It is important to keep in mind that a College might not be open when one visits, so one should be flexible.

Some of the best free Colleges in central Cambridge to explore are:

  • Christ’s College: Where Charles Darwin studied (Only open Tuesdays and Thursday)
  • Downing College: Has the Heong Gallery
  • Pembroke College: Boasts Chapel by Sir Christopher Wren
  • Jesus College: Notable For It’s garden sculptures
  • Peterhouse: The oldest of all the Colleges in Cambridge
  • Sidney Sussex: Where Oliver Cromwell’s head is buried

The following colleges are open to visitors but have paid admission:

  • Clare College
  • Corpus Christi College
  • St John’s College
  • King’s College
  • Queens’ College
  • Trinity College

The Trinity College is by far the wealthiest and largest of all the Colleges of Cambridge. One can visit (for only £3 - or $4) but visitors are restricted to only visiting the Great Court and the Chapel. One can enter the Great Court for free if one enters through the Queen Elizabeth Gate on Trinity Lane. It's important to not cross any barrier marked as Private.

  • Trinity College: The Wealthiest And Largest College
  • Trespassing: If one Crosses Barriers Marked Private - What Out for the Porters Wearing Bowler Hats!

Related: The Highways Of The Past: Discover England's River Canals

King's College Chapel

One of the most famous buildings in Cambridge is the Kings Collect Chapel which is often used as a symbol of the city of Cambridge. It is famous for its distinctive gothic chapel and illustrious list of former students. It is considered one of the finest examples of Perpendicular Gothic English architecture and features the world's largest fan vault.

Like many great cathedral works, it was built in phases over generations. It was built from 1446 to 1515 (during the Wars of the Roses that inspired Game of Thrones). It wasn't until 1531 that the large stained-glass windows were completed with other works being continued after that.

  • Built: Between 1446 and 1515

Today the Chapel remains an active place of worship and is home to the King's College Choir. It continues to play a central role in College life. It is here that new students matriculate and where Fellows are admitted.

As the Kings Chapel remains a working church, and it is not open to tourists during services. Their opening times can be changed at short notice, so it is advised to check their calendar for their updated schedule.

  • Working Chapel: The Kings Chapel Remains A Working Chapel

Admission For The Chapel And Grounds:

  • Adults: 10.00 Pounds ($13.00)