A Very British Myth: Cambridge

by EliasZanetti

A few words about Cambridge, England's longstanding symbol of knowledge and power.

How can one describe Cambridge? Only the word itself signifies respect. By hearing the word and only an overwhelming feeling surrounds you. Its not so hard to explain this: Cambridge stands as a symbol of the old Europe and it symbolizes Europe's long and undoubtedly glorious history. The city of Cambridge is famous for its university of course; it is after all one of the oldest and certainly most prestigious of the world. Cambridge is a word that brings in our minds the words knowledge and success.

The Old Schools
The Old Schools
Cambridge
Cambridge

To trace Cambridge's history it would require going back to the beginning of the 13th century when the University was founded. It was the third university ever founded; only the University of Oxford and of Bologna were created before it. The University ranks among the most prestigious institutions of knowledge for the last nine centuries; now this is what I call historical weight! As it is only natural, the University of Cambridge came to be identified with the city itself; when we think of Cambridge we think of the university by default. In my opinion, that was something meant to happen given the significance and the importance of an institution like this. Did you know that graduates of the University of Cambridge have won 65 Nobel Prices which puts them in the first place of that particular list? Impressive!

 

king's college chapel
king's college chapel
King's College
King's College
St Bene't's Church
St Bene't's Church
wikipedia

The city of Cambridge is located around 50 miles north of London and offers a variety of attractions for the visitor. And of course, the King's College Chapel qualifies as the most significant sight of the city. Built in the 15th century, it is representative of Gothic English architecture. Other important religious sites would include St Benet'€™s Church that is actually the oldest building of Cambridge built in 1020, St Botolph's Church and the Leper Chapel which is representative of the Norman architecture and also a reminder of the longstanding presence and influence of the Normans in England.

 

Needless to say, the University of Cambridge itself has a number of sites worth visiting. The Fitzwilliam Museum with a large collection of antiquities, the Botanic Garden, the Kettle;s Yard which hosts a collection of works of art from the 20th century, the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology and many others. It is as clear as the Mediterranean sky that Cambridge is a place full of history, culture, knowledge; it is the history's geek paradise! If you love history you only have to choose the Travelodge Cambridge hotel of your preference and the rest will come smoothly after you book your hotel; most likely you'll have the time of your life!

 

Cambridge Botanic Garden
Cambridge Botanic Garden
Oxford vs. Cambridge

 

I'€™m aware that there is a question lying above our heads: would it be Cambridge or Oxford!? What about both then? It might be tempting to compare these two institutions but of course knowledge is a dance for two... or even more! Sure thing is that English people must be proud of their inheritance.

To go back to the subject, Cambridge has been depicted many times in all forms of art. Nevertheless, I would say that it was in literature, and novels in particular, where Cambridge was mythologized. The University of Cambridge and its students were depicted in classic books such as "€œPride and Prejudice"€ by Jane Austen, "€œThe Canterbury Tales"€ by Geoffrey Chaucer, "€œPortaits of Places"€ by Henry James, "€œSherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle or "€œA Passage to India"€ by E.M. Forster among others. 

 

Cambridge Spies
BBC Video
$24.98  $20.83
As for movies, I would surely suggest the “Cambridge Spies”! A spy story based in true facts, this TV mini-series follows the story of four Cambridge undergraduates as they were spying for the Soviet Union back in the 1930s and the 1940s! A fascinating larger than life story that brings in mind John Le Carre’s books, which of course doesn’t characterize Cambridge students as a whole!

Cambridge is one of England’s prides and there is a good reason for it; it is in places like Cambridge where the heart of old Europe still pumps. Cambridge is a place full of glorious history that, needless to say, is still at the forefront of the world of knowledge. Cambridge today is a world center of high-technology and something tells me that it won’t give its place that easily…

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A Visit to Cambridge

Updated: 03/06/2013, EliasZanetti
 
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jppaul on 07/17/2014

I did some post grad research at Cambridge and my brother is currently doing post-grad work at Oxford. I've been to both many times but prefer Cambridge. Both are great places to study and to visit, but Oxford is a bigger city that often overwhelms the campus atmosphere. The old core of Cambridge seems better preserved, tighter and much easier to navigate by foot, bike or punter. The newer city of Cambridge lies beside the main areas of the older colleges rather than the colleges being interspersed throughout as in Oxford. Hope that helps. It's easy to feed off the energy and be inspired to learn in either of these two academic meccas.

frankbeswick on 04/09/2014

If you visit Cambridge expect to many young people whizzing round on bicycles. The sight is part of the character of the city.

paperfacets on 03/30/2014

I would love to see more of Europe. I better get cracking.

frankbeswick on 07/06/2013

Is there anything to choose academically between Oxford and Cambridge? Cambridge is the best for maths, but having visited both cities [I had a nephew and a niece who studied at Oxford and got good degrees] my subjective preference is Cambridge. I just like the city. It has so much character.

EliasZanetti on 07/06/2013

@frankbeswick
Nice, I guess it is worth a visit indeed :)

frankbeswick on 07/06/2013

On my latest trip to Cambridge I visited the botanic garden, which is worth a visit.

EliasZanetti on 07/06/2013

@WriterArtist
Indeed, they are the palaces of knowledge :)

WriterArtist on 07/05/2013

I must say that these schools are magnificent - nothing short of palaces.

EliasZanetti on 06/23/2013

@Tolojav
I couldn't agree more about the importance of tradition... Giving the fact that we live in Europe, it goes without a saying, we have a lot to learn by trying to understand our long tradition that actually shaped life as we know it today...
Thank you for your comment Tolojav, have a nice day :)

Tolovaj on 06/23/2013

We too often forget how important is the tradition, how much power it carries. If nothing else, we would probably learn more more from mistakes done in the past... It is always special feeling to experience something so old and so important as Cambridge, even as a tourist. The rivalry with Oxford gives even more weight on that, I suppose. Not everybody has a chance to visit these places in person, so thanks for this presentation!


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