Back to school

Back to school

Visiting London on your next holiday?

It may be worth your while to leave the big city sights for a few days and take a sojourn to the nearby town of Cambridge.

Better known as the home of the world renowned Cambridge University, the university town is itself a delight to explore.

While London has its fair share of interesting architecture, it feels nothing like the scholarly air you get in Cambridge.

In fact, you might think you have stepped into a Harry Potter film.

The town is best explored on foot, or on a rented bicycle. It is a place where time seems to have slowed down and best savoured in an unhurried manner.

Postcard-worthy architecture

The imposing college buildings are the focus and a source of awe for any traveller.

There are some 31 colleges in the university town, with 16 of them established between the 13th and 16th centuries.

The colleges come with their own unique architecture and are steeped in their own history, and even ghost stories.

The soaring edifices, ancient gates and green lawns impart a different feel when viewed in the day and in the night. In the dark, the old buildings are awash in an orange glow and beckon you to listen to their secret stories.

Luminaries, royalty and history-makers have walked through the gates of these colleges. Think Charles Darwin, Lord Byron and Isaac Newton.

Many of the buildings are reminiscent of mediaeval palaces, and some of the more imposing ones include King's College and St John's College, both established centuries ago. Most of the colleges have their own chapels, which have the most amazing acoustics to make any choral practice spellbinding to the ears.

Not all colleges are open for public walk-ins, however, and some have opening hours. It is best to do some research first should you intend to enter any college.

Some tourists opt to join one of the numerous walking tours of the area.

There are some buildings not linked to the university worth visiting. Some were there even before the university was set up in 1209.

One is the Round Church, built in 1130 by the Normans when they conquered the region, making it one of the oldest buildings in Cambridge.

It is modelled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem - with its unusual rounded nave - and was originally a chapel for itinerant travellers.

Now, it hosts performances and an exhibition on the history of Christianity in the region. St Benedict's Church beside Corpus

Christi College has an even older history, dating to a millennium ago before the Normans seized power from the Anglo-Saxons.

It is widely believed to be the oldest building there.

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