Walking Tour of Cambridge, England
Cambridge, England, like Oxford, is a university town with an incredibly exalted tradition. Numerous colleges (31 in all) make up this university. Of note are the King’s College Chapel, with its awe-inspiring fan-vaulted ceilings and its altarpiece, Adoration of the Magi, painted by Rubens. Once again, there is a “bridge of sighs”, this time over the Cam river and it is interesting for visitors to either watch or participate in an age-old tradition at Cambridge — “punting on the Cam”, which involves poling a flat-bottomed boat down the river.
My walk begins at Market Square, directly behind St Mary’s Church, Cambridge University’s official church. Walk out to the front of the church and step inside. Be sure to climb the Clock Tower for great views of the various colleges, from above.
From the church entrance, turn right onto Trinity Street. Trinity College, the largest college in the university, is on the left. Walk through its gate and its courtyards to the “backs” (rear lawns of the colleges on the river), and cross the Trinity Avenue Bridge to get a good look at the Bridge of Sighs, to the west. It is a reproduction of the famous bridge with the same name, in Venice.
Return to the street and continue north. Beyond Trinity College, also on the left, is St John’s College. Admire its impressive gate, which dates to 1514. It is the second largest college on campus. The Bridge of Sighs, which you just observed, is part of this college and connects its two sections.
St John’s Street, which you are now on, ends up ahead, at Bridge Street. Directly across the street is the Round Church, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was built in the 12th century and patterned after its namesake in Jerusalem.
Now walk south (to your right as you face the Round Church), on Bridge Street. The street name changes several times, but, eventually, you will reach Emmanuel College, on your left. Its chapel was designed by famous British architect, Christopher Wren. Stroll around the beautiful gardens of the college before proceeding.
Next, walk west on Downing Street, which is opposite Emmanuel College, to see Pembroke College, ahead, on your left. The chapel here was also a Christopher Wren design. This college was founded in 1347, making it one of Cambridge’s oldest.
Continue west to the next intersection, and turn left onto Trumpington Street. On your right is the actual oldest college in town, Peterhouse College, which was founded in 1284. Beyond it are the university’s Botanic Gardens, a delightful place for a stroll.
Now, reverse direction and walk north on Trumpington to Silver Street, and then turn left. This street crosses the River Cam and provides an opportunity for visitors to rent a boat or hire a guide for the obligatory activity in Cambridge, “punting on the Cam.” (By the way, as you cross the river, look to the north to see the Mathematical Bridge, originally built without metal fasteners).
After your boat ride, return on Silver Street to King’s Parade, and turn left. Immediately on your left is Queens’ College. Its Tudor buildings are among the finest in Cambridge. Just beyond Queens’ College is King’s College. Its King’s College Chapel is one of England’s architectural gems. The fan-vaulting and lovely windows are spectacular, as is Rubens’ The Adoration of the Magi, on the altar. After your visit, turn left on King’s Parade, and then right at the church, to return to Market Square.