Oxford is a favorite destination for tourists looking for a day trip from London or a quiet alternative to the bustling metropolis.
The famous university town attracts thousands of tourists every year because of its associations with modern fantasy, especially with Alice in Wonderland and the Harry Potter movies.
Discover interesting and surprising facts about the city of Oxford.
1. Oxford is known as the “city of spires of dreams,” a term coined by the poet Matthew Arnold.
2. Oxford is a city in England. It lies on the River Thames.
3. Some of Oxford’s buildings were built before the 12th century.
4. Oxford was largely saved during the bombing of World War II, making it a particularly interesting city for lovers of old architecture.
5. Oxford’s motto is Dominus Illuminatio Mea or “The Lord is my light” – the opening words of Psalm 27.
6. Oxford has a broad economic base. Its industries include automotive, education, publishing, and many IT and scientific enterprises, some of which are academic departments.
7. Oxford University is about 922 years old, making it the second oldest university in the world.
8. During World War II, Oxford was saved from being bombed by Germany, while other cities in Great Britain suffered damage. This was because Hitler intended to take possession of Oxford as his main city as soon as he would conquer Great Britain.
9. Oxford’s prestige was enhanced by a map issued by King Henry II granting its inhabitants the same privileges and benefits as the capital of the kingdom. Various important religious houses were founded in or around the city.
10. The University Museum of Natural History has the most complete specimens of the Mauritian dodo or dodo, a flightless bird that became extinct in the 17th century. The museum has the bird’s mummified skull, paws, and head bones.
11. The city is famous for its university: Oxford University, which is the oldest university in the English-speaking world.
12. About 150,000 people live in Oxford.
13. Oxford was badly damaged during the Norman invasion in 1066. After the conquest, the city was given to Governor Robert D’Ailly, who ordered a castle to be built in Oxford to confirm Norman authority over the area.
14. The first colleges in Oxford were built in the 13th century, but it was not until 1878 that women were admitted to the university.
15. Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, attended Oxford’s Dragon and Headington School.
16. Two rivers, the Cherwell and the Thames, flow through the city. These two rivers meet south of the city center.
17. The great hall in Christ Church was the inspiration for the dining hall at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. The staircase leading up to the hall was actually used in several scenes in the movies.
18. As for university rankings, it ranked first in the world in the 2017 and 2018 World University Rankings for Higher Education.