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Jess Zibung

Jess moved from New Zealand to Melbourne to pursue communications. She is now studying at The University of Melbourne with her copywriting career at IDP

Top 5 Historic and Beautiful Universities in the UK

Fancy yourself living the dream of studying in a prestigious university that has a rich history and breathtaking architecture?

To help you get started, we’ve selected five of the most historic and beautiful UK universities that will make for unforgettable academic experiences and insta-worthy moments.

University of Oxford 

Established in 1096, the University of Oxford is not just home to one of the world’s oldest university, but also home to one of the world’s most famous university libraries: the Bodelain library

The Bodelain library is the University of Oxford’s main research library that is also Britain’s second-largest library and one of the oldest libraries in the UK and Europe.

The Bodelain Library was also featured in Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (2017) and Oxford was also featured in and in the first two Harry Potter movies and was the inspiration for the Hogwart’s Dining Hall.

For any fans of Deborah Harkness’ bestselling novel The Discovery of Witches (2019), you’ll also recognise the University of Oxford and the Bodelain library that dominates the first few episodes of HBO’s TV adaptation.

The University of Oxford and the Boudelain library is such a landmark that there are tour services that will take you through the history and current-day highlights of the campus grounds and the University’s libraries.

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge was established in 1209, making it the second-oldest university in the UK and is ranked #1 according to the UK’s University League Table 2021.

Cambridge is considered a university city. The majestic presence of the university can be seen in the skyline dominated by several of the University of Cambridge college buildings located around the small city.

What makes the University of Cambridge so breathtaking is the medieval architecture and designs.

The University of Cambridge main attraction is the King’s College and its world-famous chapel. Known for its gothic-style architecture and medieval designs, the King’s College has become a local attraction with regular tours and admitted entry to view the grounds.

The University also hosts some amazing interiors within the campus, such as the botanic gardens, halls and old libraries that you can explore with a virtual tour on the University of Cambridge website.

You can also see some of the University of Cambridge’s historic buildings and campus grounds in Theory of Everything (2014), a movie detailing the life of one of Cambridge’s most renowned graduate: physicist Stephen Hawking.

Durham University

Durham University was founded in 1832 and is commonly considered the third-oldest university in the UK. However, Durham University’s history precedes the 19th century and it greatly tied to some of the most well-known names in British history. 

The origins of Durham University date back to 1541 when King Henry VIII proposed the idea of founding a university in Durham, which never eventuated. However, it wasn’t until 1657 when Oliver Cromwell again attempted to give Durham degree-awarding powers but was blocked by Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Durham University is a picturesque university, situated on the waterfront of the scenic city of Durham. In Durham, there are some of the world’s best architecture. Durham Castle, which is part of the Durham University campus, and the Durham Cathedral are both listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Queen’s University Belfast

Located in the heart of Belfast within UK’s Northern Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast was founded as Queen’s College by Queen Victoria in 1845 and became the first university in the north of Ireland in 1908. 

Queen’s University Belfast’s most scenic building is the main campus building, the Gothic and Tudor-inspired Lanyon building. The building got its name from Sir Charles Lanyon, who was a famous architect that designed other historic landmarks such as the Belfast Castle and Customs House.

Since its opening in 1845, the university is home to more than 300 buildings, over a 100 of which are listed as being of special architecture and historic merit.

Many of the historic buildings have been restored to reflect the history and traditions of the university, giving the grounds a distinct and historic campus experience for visiting and established students.

University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1582 by a charter signed by King James VI and officially opened in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s oldest universities located in Edinburgh and one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

The University of Edinburgh is strongly linked to the city of Edinburgh and was often central to events and great people in the city’s history, such as Charles Darwin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and David Hume.

The sheer number of great pioneering thinkers, philosophers and writers from the University is one of the reasons why the city of Edinburgh became the first UNESCO city of literature in the world.

The campus also houses some incredible buildings that have become part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage iconic landmarks, such as the Old College, George Square and the Tevoit Row House.

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