Oxford is a city located in the Southeastern portion of England. It covers an area of seventeen square miles and has a population of over one hundred and fifty-three thousand residents. Oxford can trace its history all the way back to Saxon times when the city was known as Oxenaforda. The city originated with the founding of St. Frideswide’s nunnery during the eighth century. During the tenth century, Oxford became a military installation situated between Wessex and Mercia. The city was incorporated at the end of the twelfth century under direct authority of King Henry II. Oxford University was also founded during this very same period of time.
During the early part of the twentieth century, Oxford began a period of rapid growth and industrialization. It also began to experience a population boom as floods of migrant laborers entered the city to work in the manufacturing plants and hospitals. This in turn led to a jump in the number of bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels in the city. Oxford has a number of commercial districts which include Clarendon Shopping Centre, Westgate Shopping Centre, George Street, Cornmarket Street, The High Street, Little Clarendon Street, Queen Street, Golden Cross, The Covered Market, Turl Street and Broad Street. Educational facilities in the city include the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University and Ruskin College.
A popular attraction in the city is the main research library for the University of Oxford, Bodleian Library. Bodleian Library is the second largest library in Great Britain. This library was founded in the seventeenth century and has several libraries and collections. These include the Japanese Library, the Law Library, Indian Institute Library, Oriental Institute Library, Philosophy Faculty Library, Radcliffe Science Library, Sackler Library, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House and the Vere Harmsworth Library. Prominent works housed at this library include The Codex Ebnerianus, The Carte Manuscripts, The Song of Roland, The Codex Tischendorfianus III, The Codex Tischendorfianus IV, The Laud Manuscripts and The Magna Carta.
Another prominent attraction in Oxford is the Ashmolean Museum. The Ashmolean Museum contains an incredible collection of historical artifacts and art that spans over four thousand years. Collections housed in this museum include Portrait of the Emperor Maximilian II, Portrait of an Unknown Woman, Portrait of Henri IV, Plan of the Fortifications at Metz, Church of the Invalides with a Well and Haystacks on the right, con of The Virgin Blachernitissa, God the Father and Six Saints, Icon of St Gerasimos, Angelica encountering the wounded Medoro, the Alfred Jewel, lantern Gunpowder Plot carried by Guy Fawkes and the death mask of Oliver Cromwell. Christ Church Picture Gallery is another popular attraction in Oxford. This gallery features over two thousand drawings and two hundred paintings. Artist represented in this body of work include Albrecht Dürer, Peter Paul Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Anthony Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Michelangelo, Sano di Pietro, Hugo van der Goes, Annibale Carracci and Paolo Veronese.
Located in the exact center of Oxford is Carfax Tower. This tower is all that remains of St. Martins Church that was built in the thirteenth century. The tower stands seventy-four feet high and contains six bells. These chime on the hour and are occassionally rung on special occassions. The tower is open during the day and visitors can climb to the top to get a fantastic view of the city. The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is a parish church of Oxford University. It was built around the twelfth century and was quickly established as the seat of the universities government. Blackwell’s Books is another popular attraction in Oxford. This bookstoor features a ten thousand square foot room called the Norrington Room. The creators of this bookstore was able to make such a large room by tunnelling under Trinity Gardens College. The bookstore is actually nine seperate stores. The main store holds over a quarter of a million books. Satellite stores are specialized according to art, music, paperbacks, maps, medicine, childrens books, university books and rare books. This bookstore was founded in 1879 by Benjamin Blackwell.
The Sheldonian Theatre was built in the mid sixteenth century for the University of Oxford. It was designed by Christopher Wren and was named after the chancellor of Oxford, Gilbert Sheldon. Today its used for various concerts and university ceremonies. This building seats around one thousand people and features an octagonal cupola that is accessible by a set of stairs. Behind this theater is the Divinity School. Other theaters in the city include the Odeon Cinema, Burton Taylor Theatre, New Theatre, Oxford Playhouse, Ultimate Picture Palace, O’Reilly Theatre, Vue Cinema, Pegasus Theatre, Old Fire Station Theatre and the Phoenix Picture house.
Oxford is a city that contains many places for the weary traveler to rest his head. It has five star, four star, three star and two star hotels. So visitors can always be sure to find the accommadations that not only fits their lifestyle but also their budget. Five star hotels include the Gran Hotel Elba Estepona Thalasso and the Renaissance Hotel. Four star hotels in the city include El Oceano Beach Hotel, The Oxford Hotel, Heritage Randolph Hotel, The Randolph, Oxford Belfry and the AC Malaga Palacio. Three star hotels in the city include Don Manolo, Banbury House, Linton Lodge, Express By Holiday Inn, Eastgate and the Royal Oxford. Two star hotels include the Hotel Residencia Colon and the Days Inn. The city is also home to many shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes and nightclubs. There is something for just about everyone here in this majestic city.