FROM THE CULTURAL HEIGHTS
If you want to enjoy some fantastic views from above the city of Cambridge and take in the beauty of the landscape, the Church of St. Mary the Great is the place to go.This parish church, which belongs to the Church of England, is the University Church and has been classified as a Grade I Building (the highest level of heritage protection in England, like Windsor Castle).The church was first mentioned in 1205, but the original building was destroyed by fire in 1290 and then rebuilt. The Royal Crown initially owned the church, but in 1342, the land became the property of King´s Hall College, and it currently belongs to the Trinity College.
In the Middle Ages, it was the meeting and debating place of the Cambridge University until the University´s Senate House was built across the street in 1730.The building that we´ll enter was built between 1478 and 1519, and the tower we are about to climb was completed in 1608.Before ascending the tower, you can admire the late Gothic perpendicular style of the church and its XIX century stained glass windows. In its interior, you will find very interesting pieces, such as a XIX century stained glass window and beautiful antique relics, such as the burial cloth of Henry VII.
Also noteworthy is the XVII century organ built by the famous Father Bernard Smith, which is still used during religious ceremonies at the university. The church also has a second organ built in 1991, a pretty exceptional feature.
The church is open all year round, mornings and evenings. There is an entrance fee to climb the tower, with discounts for families, but it is definitely worth it.St. Mary the Great is located on King´s Parade, at the heart of Cambridge, opposite King´s College.
A DNA SEQUENCE, PLEASE!
Let´s go for a pint or half-pint of beer or a soft drink. Our drink isn´t the most important bit of this tip; it´s the location that is key here.The Eagle Pub is located right at the heart of Cambridge, just a few metres away from King´s Parade, and is one of the busiest places in the city. It is the most famous pub in Cambridge and a must if you visit this town.It was opened in 1667 as an inn and is the second oldest pub in Cambridge, after The Pickerell Inn. The main facade dates from 1600 and has a XIX century wing.
Its labyrinthine architecture allows you to always find a charming spot to sit down for a drink or order some typical English food. It also has an outdoor terrace to enjoy when the temperature is warm enough. The place belongs to the Corpus Christi College and is run by the Greene King Brewery. During the World War II, the Allied air force officers, who drank and socialised at The Eagle, used wax candles, petrol lighters and lipstick to write their names, squadron numbers and other things on the pub´s ceiling.
Tradition has it that it all started with an RAF pilot, Sergeant Turner, who climbed onto a stool and wrote his squadron number on the ceiling by burning it. This graffiti, known as "RAF Bar", was rediscovered, deciphered and preserved since 1990.But undoubtedly, what made the place unique, and why we can´t miss it, is due to another historical fact: in the 1950s, the pub became the place where the employees of the Cavendish University Laboratory went for lunch;and, on February 28, 1953, Francis Crick entered the area like a storm, interrupting his boss´s lunch to announce that he and James Watson had discovered "the secret of life"; the structure of DNA.
This event is commemorated on the door of the premises with a blue plaque and two signs in the central room, right next to the table where Watson and Crick usually ate lunch. Also, in 1953, they were working in this very place listing the 20 amino acids, which were a significant influence on molecular biology and the key to the development and understanding of the protein code of DNA.
What better place than there, to drink a special ale commemorating the discovery, called "Eagle´s DNA". Are you up for it?
Just across the street from King´s College, at number 8 Bene´t Street.
In the very heart of the city, there is a daily street market held at the Market Square where you can find different options. On the one hand, we can find souvenirs and memorabilia (fridge magnets, postcards, etcetera.). However, they also sell typical products from the region to taste on the spot or take away. One of those products is cheese.France may be the most famous country for its cheeses, but England has an interesting variety of this product that can be found in this market.
One of those is cheddar, a yellow-orange cheese made from cow´s milk. It originates from the English village of Cheddar, hence the name.Stilton is a type of English Roquefort, a mouldy cheese with a creamy texture and an intense flavour. There are two types of Stilton: Blue and white. Blue Stilton has the status of a protected designation of origin (PDO) cheese that follows a strict production process. To find authentic blue Stilton, look for the ones that come from Derbyshire, Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire (the very best). Red Leicester is a cow milk cheese with a consistent, homogeneous texture and a fruity flavour that may remind you of Dutch Edam.
It is a cheese that gets its orange colour from the carrot and beetroot. Is perfect for dinner or to accompany sandwiches.Stinking Bishop is a cheese with a very characteristic intense smell. Its orange rind encloses a spongy interior that comes in different varieties depending on the season: it can be pretty firm or, on the contrary, really creamy. The name "Stinking Bishop" should be enough to explain how strong it smells.
Cheshire cheese is also made from cow´s milk, and it is hard but delicious cheese. It is one of the most important old British traditional cheeses, and in the XVIII century, it was already one of the most popular. There are white, red and blue varieties.Big cheers to those English cheesemongers!
At the flea market in Market Square.
THE TIME-CRUNCHING MONSTER …
Inaugurated in 2008, the "Corpus Clock" or "Chronophage" is a large sculptural clock located in a glass case outside the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College. It was designed and funded by John C. Taylor, a former member of the College.The dial of the watch is a gold-plated stainless steel disc, about 1.5 metres in diameter. It has no hands or numerals but displays the time through individual grooves on the dial illuminated by blue LED lights. These grooves are arranged in three concentric rings that show the hours, minutes and seconds.
The most striking feature of the clock is the sculpture of a metallic devouring insect with a sinister appearance similar to a grasshopper or locust. The Chronophage (or time-eater) moves its mouth as if eating the seconds as they pass. Below the clock is an inscription from the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible): "Mundus transit et concupiscentia eius" (the world passes away, and its desires as well).The clock is entirely precise just once every five minutes. The rest of the time, the pendulum seems to speed up or stop, and the lights may start and then race ahead.
According to Taylor, this erratic movement reflects the "irregularity" of life.Taylor invested five years and £1 million in the watch, and two hundred people worked on it (engineers, sculptors, scientists, jewellers and calligraphers).Of course, it looks a little scary, like the passage of time, but it is undoubtedly a great place to have our photo taken and a beautiful souvenir of our time in Cambridge.
The clock is located near the Bene´t Street and Trumpington Street corners, facing King´s Parade.
Everyone knows the anecdote about how Newton discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head. But, is it true?There are several accounts from people to whom Newton himself had told it. Among them are his favourite niece, Catherine Barton and her husband. Catherine told it to Voltaire, who was the first to reproduce the anecdote in print.Cambridge University closed because of the bubonic plague between 1665 and 1666, and Newton retired to his mother´s house in Woolsthorpe, a village between Cambridge and Nottingham.Newton said that while sitting in contemplation, he saw an apple fall and the notion of universal gravity came to his mind.
As for the part where it fell on his head, it seems to be a rumour, but he talked specifically about an apple falling from a tree, a tree from the garden, not from the orchard.It seems that a severe storm uprooted the famous apple tree in 1814, but to preserve it, a section was cut off and planted at Lord Brownlow´s house in Belton. Someone brought a handsaw and cut off some branches, and the wood was preserved later (some even made chairs with that wood). But the tree did not die, and it seems that several branches got planted around the world. In the little garden outside Trinity College, an apple tree was planted.
They say is the descendant of the tree that provided shade while Newton napped. So, what we should do is go and sit under this apple tree and think about gravity, but always wearing something to protect our heads! (Just in case).We certainly shouldn´t leave the city of Cambridge without visiting the famous apple tree, as gravity affects us all, and we all know what happens when combining the apple, apple tree, and napping.
Where can we find this apple tree?
In the garden outside Trinity College, on Trinity Street, in the very heart of the city, just a few steps away from King´s College.
SUN AND THE TIME MANAGEMENT
The oldest known sundials belong to the Egyptians, around the XV century BC. They were obelisks. They used the height of the sun to tell the time. In Egypt, around 1500 BC, the Merkhet appeared, which was used to measure the sun´s elevation and, therefore, the time of day, it was built the shape of a capital T.In China, before Jesus Christ, vertical bars, like a Gnomon(a bar whose projected shadow indicates the hours), were used in a sundial to control the day´s activities. It took almost eight centuries for these clocks to be developed in the Mediterranean area.The first Greek sundial appeared in the 6th century BC. These clocks used Babylonian hours.
Two centuries later, with the Romans, more elaborate clocks appeared, as they had been inspired by all the models found throughout their conquests. An instrument called the "Scaphe" was invented as a result, which is hemispherical in shape and carved in stone. It is the inverse representation of the celestial vault.The science of sundials, called gnomonics, was handed down to the Arabs around the year 1000, but it was not until the Middle Ages that sundials spread throughout Europe. In the Middle Ages, monasteries became centres of culture, both intellectual, religious and economic.
The "rule" dictated by St. Benedict imposed study in addition to physical work and prayer. In other words, it was necessary to establish hours for study, prayer and work. This led to the spread of gnomonic technology, which became so popular that sundials started appearing on facades of churches and cathedrals at the beginning of the 8th century, especially in the south of England.Obviously, in an academic city like Cambridge, it was necessary to keep track of time to synchronise timetables and appointments with tutors, and so on.
And the best way to do that was by placing sundials in every College and in other parts of the city, some of which were highly decorative, others quite simple. How many did you manage to spot?
A tip to keep in mind when trying to spot these sundials are, as they needed light, they can only be found in high places, so you have to keep looking up!
THE LARGEST AND FINEST FAN VAULT IN THE WORLD
If there is a famous and world-renowned college in the city, it is undoubtedly King´s College. Founded in 1441 by King Henry VI, it was meant to be an academic organisation with around 70 students. And why only seventy? Because it was founded by the King for students from Eaton College school and only admitted and awarded scholarships for seventy students who lacked financial resources. In fact, until 1865, there was not a single student at King´s College who had not attended Eton before.
Of the various buildings that make up the College, the chapel is the most important. It was considered one of the finest examples of English Perpendicular Gothic architecture.And what is Perpendicular Gothic? It is the third stage of English Gothic architecture, born in 1350 and is an evolution of the curvilinear Gothic from the end of the XIII century, which lasted until the mid XVI century. The name "perpendicular" or "rectilinear" is due to the emphasis on the straight line.
The chapel is a symbol of the city of Cambridge and can be seen in the city´s logo.Construction began in 1446 and was spread over a period of one hundred years in three construction stages. The King who completed it was Henry the VIII, which is why his statue can be seen on the facade of the college.The chapel is 88 metres long, and the width of the central nave is 12 metres.
The interior height is 24 metres, and the exterior height is 29 metres. It was built between 1512 and 1515 by John Wastell.It is the largest fan vault in the world. The main difference with the traditional ribbed vault is that it abandons the traditional curve of the pointed arch and replaces it with several angles formed by elliptical arches. This makes it possible to place all the keystones the same level.All the fan vault ribs have the same curve and are placed equidistantly on a continuous curved surface.
Not all of them have the task of distributing loads, and most of them are purely decorative: the load forces are transmitted exclusively by the meridians. This type of vault is usually so heavy that most of them are made of wood, not stone.Interestingly, the chapel also houses the painting by Rubens, "The Adoration of the Magi", which was added to the chapel in 1968.
Don´t miss it!
The chapel is situated inside the King´s College on King´s Parade street, right in the city centre, and you need an entry ticket to visit it, but it´s well worth a visit.
STROLLING THROUGH THE BACKYARDS
Cambridge University is the second oldest university in the United Kingdom after Oxford University. Both bring together a set of college buildings of extreme beauty and antiquity, but there is one thing that makes Cambridge colleges different from Oxford ones, and that is the backyards. Oxford has gardens within the colleges, but it does not have backyards like Cambridge, and to explore the backyards of this iconic colleges is undoubtedly a cool thing to do.Our walk would start at the back of Queens´ College on Queen´s Road.
Queens´ College is one of the only two colleges with buildings on both sides of the River Cam (the other college is St John´s). This college was founded in 1448 by Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry VI, and refounded in 1465 by Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward the 4th. This double foundation is reflected in its name: Queens´ instead of Queen´s. You will come across a path known as "the backs" along the river, strolling through this park, which will take you to the back of the King´s College.
This point offers some lovely views of the river, the courtyards and the first buildings of the college, which are now part of the Old Schools. Its construction began in 1441, but by 1443 the decision was made to build a much more extensive complex of buildings. Here we can see the main facade of the famous chapel and parts of the college´s interior.Continuing on, we would arrive at Clare College, the second oldest College in the university after Peterhouse. Clare College is famous for its choir and for its gardens which are part of The Backs. Behind Clare is Trinity Hall, the fifth oldest in the university, founded in 1350 by the Bishop of Norwich.
He decided to establish a college to rebuild the priesthood after the Black Death epidemic of the 1340s, which claimed the lives of over 700 priests. Today the College is home to undergraduates and postgraduate students.There is no shortage of university buildings and campuses here, so after Trinity Hall, we would see Trinity College and its library, the Wren Library, completed in 1695. Unlike the usual design of libraries, built to protect their collections, this one was designed with large windows so that readers could make the most of the natural light.
This walk will provide you with beautiful pictures and offer you some peace of mind, as it is very relaxing. It can take half an hour at an average pace, although it depends on the number of pictures we take.
To try it, all you have to do is follow the path called "The Backs", which starts from Queen´s Road
There is no better way to experience Cambridge than by taking a stroll along the river Cam on one of its punts.Punts are small flat-bottomed boats designed for use on small or shallow-draught rivers. Punting is the name given to sailing in one of these boats. The punter (the boatman) steers the boat along the river, pushing it with a thick, long pole that touches the river bed and moves it along. However, many often confuse it with a gondola; despite moving through the canals of Venice powered by the same "human engine", it is structurally very different from the punt.
The punts were initially built as platforms for transporting goods, but today they have been transformed into beautiful touristic and leisure rides.It is very common to see this type of rides in films set in Victorian England, where young people often use them for romantic strolls with their partners or several friends to spend a pleasant and calm time in the evenings. This could be a perfect option for couples; a romantic trip through the river with our partners. If you are travelling as a family or with several friends, it could be an enjoyable ride to admire the city from a different perspective.
We will not be the ones in charge of sailing the punt; these trips must be contracted at the departure points, specifying the duration of the trip. We will be accompanied by a punter, who is the one who knows how to steer the boat. If it wasn´t the case, our idyllic trip could become the new most-watched video on the internet.Prices vary depending on the duration of the ride, but ideally, if you decide to hire one, the punter should take you to the Bridge of Sighs, which is a covered bridge at St John´s College. This bridge was built in 1831 and crossed the River Cam.
The architect was Henry Hutchinson, and although it is named after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, they have little in common architecturally beyond the fact that they are both covered. The bridge, a Grade I listed building in the English Heritage, was the favourite place of Queen Victoria in the city.
Where to take a punt? There are several places, Quayside Punting Station, in Magdalene Street, Silver Street, Trinity Lane.
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