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Excursion to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon

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Oxford is the one of the best places to experience English traditions. This city is located in the county of Oxfordshire, 80 km from London. Oxford is situated on the rivers Thames and Cherwell and is known primarily as an educational center. Oxford is not only the most ancient University City in England but also boasts stunning beauty with its characteristic British architecture. Oxford University is both the oldest University in any English speaking country and one of the first higher educational institutions in Europe. Oxford University stands as the second highest rated university in the UK (behind its old rival - Cambridge) and has over 50 Nobel laureates among its alumni.

In May, a balloon festival is held in Oxford. For two days over Cottesloe Park rows of balloons ranging in size, colour and shape can be seen soaring through the sky.  

Oxford contains the oldest museum in Britain – Esmolin (founded 1683). Within the walls of the museum, you can see collections of precious stones, antique sculptures and paintings. Furthermore, several rooms are devoted to fascinating archaeological finds.

In addition to the majestic university building, it is also worth visiting several old colleges, including: Magdalen College, Queens College, Merton College and University College. Each of these colleges exhibits genuine examples of medieval architecture and is surrounded by the beautiful park setting. One of the noteworthy buildings is the Radcliffe Chamber, which serves as a reading room for the Bodleian Library. It should be noted that this library is one of the largest in the world, its fund exceeds 2 million volumes. Broad Street is one of the best places for walking. Here you can see the building of the Sheldon Theater, as well as one of the largest bookshops in the country, Blackwells.

Stratford-upon-Avon is a small town near the Avon River in Warwickshire, where the world-famous playwright William Shakespeare was born. The city center dates back to the 16th-17th centuries. It is surrounded by dense greenery, half-timbered houses and a historic canal. Here the architecture of Tudor England, including the house of Shakespeare, has been well preserved. The Shakespeare House Museum is a beautiful two-story half-timbered complex in Stratford-upon-Avon. Its interior has not changed at all and reflects the lifestyle of the lower middle class of the second half of the 16th century. In the rooms you will find carefully arranged antique furniture and the first collection of works by Shakespeare (1623). Look for the window on which many famous visitors left their names. There you can see the signature of Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and John Keats. A mass pilgrimage to Stratford happens every year on 12th October (unless the 12th falls on a Sunday, in which case the fair takes place on 11th October). The reason for this pilgrimage is the Mop Fair which is one of the largest fairs in the country!

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