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10 most beautiful historic university campuses in the UK

Inside view of the famous iconic St John's College buildings of Cambridge University in Cambridgeshire. Source: Travelling.About/Shutterstock

Who hasn’t dreamt of sweeping through the hallways of grand castles, studying in the halls of historic landmarks and treading in the footsteps of great men and women of the past?

Part of the charm of studying in the UK is that this dream isn’t too farfetched. The wee little islands of the United Kingdom are home to tales of Kings and Queens, knights of the realm, and treason and intrigue spanning centuries. Many of the grand buildings that witnessed these events still stand.

There’s nowhere better to gain inspiration for your studies than in some of the most remarkably beautiful campuses in the world while sharing your study room with some of the plotters, planners, politicians and history makers of the past.

1. University of Oxford

Oxford

Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK. Source: Skowronek/Shutterstock

This one will come as no surprise. As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford has seen some impressive names walk its halls, including a remarkable 58 Nobel Prize winners.

Established in 1096, the university’s campus has become truly iconic. And as an added bonus, scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed here so you can live out your own Hogwarts fantasy.

2. University of Cambridge

cambridge.jpg

King’s College, Cambridge University. Source: Shutterstock

This medieval university boasts some pretty impressive alumni amongst its ranks, including Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, Oliver Cromwell, and members of the royal family to boot.

It’s also got some of the most beautiful architecture to be found in the UK, including the grand King’s College and its Chapel, renowned for its Gothic English architecture and large medieval stained-glass windows.

Not to mention, Cambridge is considered one of the most prestigious higher education institutes in the world. Just sayin’.

3. Keele University

This one might be a bit more of a surprise. While it only became a university in 1962, Keele campus is located on the Keele Estate which was once owned by a medieval military order before passing into the hands of a merchant family who managed the estate until the early 20th century.

Not only does it boast medieval buildings but also has a stunning rural setting with lakes and forests on its self-contained 620-acre campus.

4. Royal Holloway, University of London

Royal Holloway, University of London, Founder’s Building. Source: Facebook – Royal Holloway

If you want history, this has it in spades. Opened by Queen Victoria herself in 1886, it was originally established as an all-women college but later began admitting men in the mid-1990s.

The central campus building, known as the Founder’s Building, is now Grade I listed and has been described by The Times as “one of Britain’s most remarkable university buildings”.

5. Durham University

Durham Castle, UNESCO site. Source: Amra Pasic/Shutterstock

The University estate is home to a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Like Oxford and Cambridge, Durham is split into colleges, one of which is housed in the 11th-century Durham Castle. This means some lucky students get the chance to not only study in the historic grounds, but actually live in the castle!

6. Cardiff University, Wales

Cardiff University, Wales, UK. Source: Billy Stock/Shutterstock

Cardiff University is slightly younger than some of the UK’s better known institutions, but its Main Building rivals Cambridge and Oxford’s ancient lecture colleges.

7. Queen’s University Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast. Gena_BY/Shutterstock

The centrepiece of this stunning campus is the red-brick gothic Lanyon Building, which opened in 1849 and is named for its architect, Charles Lanyon. The Queen’s University of Belfast is Northern Ireland’s highest-ranked university, currently standing at 195th in the world. With roots in the earlier Royal Belfast Academical Institution, which was founded in 1810, the uni is considered one of the UK’s 10 oldest universities.

8. University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Law School Building, Edinburgh university. Source: Complexli/Shutterstock

The university’s Old College is one of the historic city’s landmarks. Its foundation stone was laid in 1789, but it stands on the original site of the university’s first building. The courtyard has a central grass lawn which provides a serene location for outdoor study.

9. Aberystwyth University, Wales

Aberystwyth university. Source: Sigitasd/Shutterstock

The Old University Building at Aberystwyth University in Wales was designed specifically to look like a medieval castle in 1795, perfect for curling up with a history book.

10. University of St. Andrew’s, Scotland

University of St Andrew’s. Source: Facebook – University of St Andrew’s

Solidifying its place in history with a very modern love story is St. Andrew’s University, Scotland. It’s no wonder Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge fell in love in these stunning ancient buildings and peaceful campus grounds.

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