Exploring a place with so much history could be overwhelming, so take a slow walk and stop in the perfect places to read in the city of bicycles
Oxford is a city of knowledge. If you decide to come for a couple of days and not the regular day trip, you will find yourself walking taller and feeling that just from being in the city of one of the most prestigious universities in the world, you are somehow in control of that knowledge.
Museums, colleges, parks and cafes; almost every place has an atmosphere for contemplative thoughts and people is immerse in a deep thinking, of course, maybe with the exception of pubs. There are so many inspirational places around that city that is easy to believe that many great ideas in different fields of knowledge has been developed in this single spot in England.
Could be the conjugation of brilliant minds together or maybe is the spirit of a city that creates the right ambiance for ideas to come out from the back of our brain. Some of the brightest people who has walked the irregular stone roads are from the literally world. The city has been house of many important figures and the relationship between the written word and Oxford included titles like: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, Last Bus to Woodstock — first book in the Inspector Morse series – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series – and so on.
Everyone knows a good writer has to be a good reader as well, which is why the best way to describe Oxford is pointing some of the best reading locations in the city.
It is true that books transport us to other places. In one moment you can be in the jungle of a tropical country or in the most expensive restaurant in Dubai. Nevertheless a place in Oxford from where you would not like to be taken away reading your book is University Parks. In the 70 acres (30 hectares) of green grass it is easy to find a place to sit or laydown under the shadow of the trees and read.
Close to the park you can visit Oxford University Museum of Natural History and The Pitt Rivers Museum. For the keen observer the museums will mean endless discoveries. The former display an interest collection of geological and zoological specimens; and the latter showcases a large collection of archaeological and anthropological objects for all over the world.
Christ Church meadow
If with your reading you are seeking knowledge, Christ Church meadow could be an excellent place. It is close to the college with the same name where thirteen Prime Minister studied and literary figures such as Lewis Carroll taught in there. Also you can see the Fellows’ rooms of Merton College founded in 1264, where J.R.R Tolkien stayed while teaching in Oxford University.
The meadow is a beautiful place to walk and when you arrive to the riverside that would be the perfect moment to find a bench and open the book for a few hours. After that you can finish the walk following the river and visit the Botanic Garden or Magdalen College. The mixture between nature and the historical significance of the colleges it is what makes this area so unmatched in Oxford city.
Blackwell’s and cafes
Of course, not every day in Oxford is sunny, especially in the winter. Although reading outside has a magnetic feeling, there are other options that will keep you warm and cozy with a book or tablet in one hand and a hot beverage in the other. There are hundreds of coffee shops around the city to choose from. Since the Vaults & Garden Café next to the Church St. Mary the Virgin or the one at the second floor in the Waterstones bookshop.
A really special one, where the quiet murmuring of cups and conversations disappear slowly into the reading, is the coffee place in Blackwell’s book shop. With the view of the Sheldonian Theatre through the window, the famous shop gives the perfect environment among a wonderful book collection. Blackwell’s was open in 1879 and has sold books to many generation of student and visitors of Oxford, becoming in an iconic place in the city.
Hill oxford castle
A good view of the city and its green surroundings when you take your eyes off the book. The hill next to Oxford Castle is an earthen mound (motte) which is part of the complex of the Castle and has a well chamber within. The top of the motte is a quiet place, with occasional visitors that do not tend to stay too long and will not disturb the reading. Sitting in the grass and enjoying the breeze while your mind navigated to a distance place is the perfect combination to get immerse in a story.
The Castle was build in 1071 and the whole area has so much history that is impossible not to be tempt for the Late Saxon stone tower, a Norman chapel crypt, a 17th-19th century prison, Section of the Saxon city walls.
The city of Oxford has many historical buildings, college and museums to visit, that will leave you with a really good experience. However, to capture its spirit take a book under your arm and lived the day like a real Oxonian.