Radcliffe Camera

Known as the 'beating heart' of Oxford, this library has stood since the early 18th century.

TravelCurious Tip

Go to the nearby University Church of St Mary the Virgin and you can climb the bell tower. Enjoy looking down on the Radcliffe Camera, and the rest of Oxford

Nestled between Brasenose and All Souls Colleges, the Radcliffe Camera is one of Oxford’s iconic buildings. It was designed by James Gibbs in the neo-classical style and built in the mid-18th century.

It was the first example of a circular library in England. It consists of three main stages and two stories internally, the upper one holding a gallery. Overhead there is a lofty dome, with beautiful and slightly dizzying geometric patterns across it, shifting like a kaleidoscope. Unfortunately, you will need to recruit a student if you want to go in!

Still, the view from outside is a treat in itself. During the summer, students lounge on the steps and cobbles outside, and the Bodleian library is just few steps away.

Jekyll & Hyde

John Radcliffe, a famous doctor, bankrolled the building — he had the John Radcliffe hospital up the road named after him too. However, Radcliffe’s contemporaries were amused that a man who scorned book learning should bequeath a large sum for a library. Sir Samuel Garth quipped that the endowment was “about as logical as if a eunuch should found a seraglio.” If you don’t know what a seraglio is, your imagination surely has an idea.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in London
Home to the world's most famous university, dreaming spires and a million bicycles.
Christchurch College
One the oldest and most famous university colleges has over 800 years of history.
Harry Potter Great Hall
This magnificent interior featured in the Harry Potter films as Hogwarts' Great Hall.
Oxford Pubs
Hidden gem pubs, overflowing with academics. The above pub claims to have the highest IQ per square metre.
Bodleian Library
One of the oldest libraries in Europe and mostly underground, it has served the university for over 400 years.
Covered Market
A treasure trove of market stalls, souvenir stalls and kooky eateries - perfect for a quick bite.

Related Tours

Gown and Town: Oxford the City of Dreaming Spires (including travel from London)
  • Meet your guide at iconic Paddington Station, and journey together to Oxford - the city of dreaming spires! 
  • Experience the enchanting myriad of Oxford’s spellbinding streets and uncover the city’s fascinating history.
  • Visit one of the world’s best-known universities and explore the array of colleges, courtyards and the famous ‘Bridge of Sighs’.
  • Soak up the quintessential English atmosphere of Oxford.
From authentically magical locations used in the Harry Potter films, to one of the most-famous universities in the world, Oxford awaits – just a short train ride away from London. Deserving of a full day trip and not just a flying visit, Oxford is full of historical corners waiting to be discovered, as well as picturesque streets perfect for meandering and escaping the hustle and bustle of London. 

One of the best-known universities in the world and also one of the most beautiful, Oxford is a charming place to spend a tranquil day. Our guide will accompany you on the hour long train journey through the English countryside and take you on a fully guided stroll through the city streets through the most beautiful colleges, hidden courtyards and quadrangles, libraries, and Oxford’s ‘Bridge of Sighs’ – a distinctive landmark and highly-coveted photo opp. 


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