Oxford Day 1-Following the Leader

I am travelling to Oxford today with my friend Jess and I am very excited for my first visit. Jess’s boyfriend lives in Oxford and is going to be our tour guide for the day. I am looking forward to seeing a new city, spending time with friends and being shown around by a local.

Freddie turned out to be an excellent tour guide, he had an itinerary planned including notes full of interesting facts for us. After dropping my stuff at my hotel on Broad Street we began our tour.

Clarendon building
Blackwells Bookshop. The Norrington room features over 150,000 books, it also holds the Guinness world record for the most books on sale in one room.

Opposite the bookshop is the Sheldonian Theatre which is one of the three buildings on my list from my book of 1001 buildings… The Sheldonian Theatre was Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and compleated in 1669. The Sheldonian Theatre was built for the university next to the famous Bodleian library. Unfortunately, like most buildings at the moment the Sheldonian Theatre is currently closed.

Hertford Bridge, more commonly known as the Bridge of Sighs because of its likeness to the Venice bridge (but actually looks more like the Rialto Bridge in my opinion).

Just a short walk around the corner is where we found building no.2…The Radcliffe camera, designed by James Gibbs. Contrary to its name the building is a reading room (the word camera means room in Latin) now belonging to the Bodleian Library. Also closed at the moment but I will be back. There is a 90 minute tour of the Bodleian Library and that is the only opportunity to go inside the Radcliffe Camera.

The beautiful Radcliffe Square. The Radcliffe Camera on the right with the University Church of St Mary the Virgin behind it. Radcliffe square and the Radcliffe Camera were named after John Radcliffe, a Doctor from Oxford whose estate funded the building of the Radcliffe Camera.

Built in 1071-73 the tower pictured above is the only part of the original building remaining.

This tower opposite the Castle is part of Nuffield College founded by William Morris (designer and creator of the Morris Minor, also Lord Nuffield). Investments into care homes made by BUPA (whose president was William Morris) lead to the Nuffield trust. (Morris suggested that his title ‘Nuffield’ would make a better name for the trust. Over the years, since 1957 they acquired hospitals and wellbeing centres and became the charity what we know and love today as Nuffield Health.

This wonderful roof detail (pictured on right) caught my eye as we walked up this Street. We then walked past the famous Ashmolean Museum, undoubtedly one of the most striking buildings of the city

With so much detail and so many angles to this building it was difficult to stop taking pictures.

Strange picture, I know. But I was fascinated by the gold grouting effect on this brick work!

The last stop of the day was to a much more contemporary building. The blavatnik building is a world apart from anything else that I have seen today! I really like it! I like the dimensions of the building, the way it jutts out at the sides making this building very dramatic. Designed by Herzog & De Meuron.

Next door to the Blavatnik building this building stands out so much more than it may in different surroundings!
Beautiful Church Hall. There are are a few different styles going here, this building is so cute.

Below is the Martyrs memorial, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott. I have seen this monument a few times already today whilst walking but I thought it was important to include the two photos below together. The memorial (left) commemorates three bishops that were burned at the stake for their religious beliefs. The picture on the right shows the bricked cross on Broad Street that marks the site that they were burned at the stake. Just another fascinating story that I have learned about today in Oxford, and today is only day 1.

Well that’s it for today! Now time for a rest and dinner this evening.

Haas House

DSC07940Haas house – Hans Hollein – 1990

The Haas House was very easy to spot in the midst of the beautiful surroundings in St. Stephens Platz.  The square that is St Stephens Platz  is full of wonderful mixed styles that are far more traditional than the Haas House. Although very different from it’s surroundings there are so many different angles and ways to view this building. The Haas House stands out dramatically from it’s settings whilst also managing to fit in quite nicely (in my opinion). I found it hard not to fall for this unusual contemporary building.

DSC07950DSC07963A view of the Haas House within it’s contrasting surroundings.


After breakfast this morning we left our hotel in Negombo to travel to Dambulla. I am looking forward to today’s excursions as we have an elephant safari this afternoon.

The architect enthusiast in me is very dissapointed  as one of the buildings in my favourite book ‘1001 buildings you must see before you die’ is situated close to Dambulla (but when I researched it I found that it is too hard for me to get to).

On route to Dambulla we stopped at a temple. I took this opportunity to ask our tour guide Cham if he had ever heard of a hotel near Dambulla that was almost built into the hillside (or at least looks that way) – long shot! To my surprise and joy he had. It seems as if it is quite famous as it is very different to surrounding architecture. The amazing tour guide that he is Cham was able to arrange a car to take me there whilst the rest of the group were at the temple. I was very excited now to see a building that I thought that I had no chance of seeing and on the same day as an elephant safari! Perfect!

The driver arrived and took me to the Kandalama hotel he was wonderful and arranged for me to have a look around inside the hotel.

DSC06956DSC06959Designed by Geoffrey Bawa in 1994 The hotel is barely visible in this second photo, blended perfectly into the beautiful surroundings.


After one night in Dambulla we travelled by bus for about two hours to Kandy. Along the way we stopped at the famous Sigiriyra rock also known as the Lion Rock. We also stopped at a lovely spice garden for lunch and a look around.

This evening’s excursion in Kandy is the famous ‘Temple of the Tooth which happens to be the second building in ‘the book’.


The temple of the Tooth is Sri Lanka’s most sacred Buddhist shrine, and pilgrimage site.

It is believed that when Buddha died he was cremated, his left canine tooth was retrieved from the ashes and the temple of the tooth was built to house the sacred remains.The relic is of great importance to Sri Lanka not only as a sacred pilgrimage site but since ancient times it has been believed that the holder of the tooth relic holds the power and governance of Sri Lanka.

We got there at 5.30pm because this evening it will get very busy as they will be revealing the sacred tooth relic. they do this three times a day at set times when rituals are preformed and offerings are made to the tooth relic.

dsc07161.jpgWhen we got there we had to get in line to see the tooth relic (which is kept locked away and hidden from view behind beautiful intricate gold doors. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take any pictures of the tooth relic.

We only had time for a very quick glance at the relic casket but I could see that it is very beautiful. Here are some more pictures from in and around this vast temple.

DSC07154DSC07165DSC07175DSC07176DSC07181DSC07188You can see in this photo above just how busy the temple was and this was only a small part of it. The temple was huge with a complex of many buildings, unfortunately as it was dark some of my other photos didn’t come out too well. After about two hours walking around inside and outside of this temple (in bare feet) I was more than ready for my dinner.

Karlsplatz Metro Station

DSC08089Karlsplatz Metro Station – Otto Wagner – 1899

The Karlsplatz Metro Station was without a doubt the highlight of my trip to Vienna. This pavilion is an icon of Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil as it is known in Austria) and was very high up on my list of buildings to see.

The pavilion pictured above is one of two that stand opposite each other. Once ticket offices for the station below the identical pavilions are now used as a Wagner museum and a cafe, a very nice spot to sit and admire the building.


Austrian Postal Savings Bank

DSC08360Austrian Postal Savings Bank – Otto Wagner – 1906

My last stop in Vienna was to Wagner’s famous Post Office. Another fine example of Wagner’s work I was not disappointed with what I found. Personally I was most impressed with the interior of this building. The entire building is a wonderful example of modern architecture that is well worth a visit.



DSC08280Burgtheatre – Gottfried Semper/Karlvon Hasenauer – 1888

The Burgtheatre is considered Austria’s national theatre, which even from this bad photo looks absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately with so much to see in Vienna I did not plan to visit the theatre this time but I did manage to walk past it whilst lost one evening. I will definitely make this building a priority for my next visit to Vienna.

Kandalama Hotel

DSC06956Kandalama Hotel – Geoffrey Bawa – 1994

Resting neatly in the hillside of Kandalama this unique hotel really does look as if part of the landscape and offers great views of its surrounding area.

DSC06959I had almost given up hope of seeing this building but luckily for me out tour guide was able to arrange a taxi to take me there whilst the group that I was travelling with were visiting another attraction.DSC06979

Temple of the Tooth

DSC07151Temple of the Tooth – 1747-81 

The temple of the tooth is a vast temple with many surrounding buildings and areas. The temple is home to the sacred tooth relic.  According to legend the tooth relic is the ashes of one of the teeth of Buddha. The relic is closely guarded and can only be viewed by the public at certain times. The temple itself is a very religious building and it is a place for worshippers to come and leave their offerings to Buddha.

DSC07165DSC07179DSC07188Whilst there I were lucky enough to see the tooth relic itself but was unable to take photos of it.


Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

DSC06762Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral – Frederick Gibbard – 1967

The metropolitan cathedral is the largest catholic cathedral in England. One of the highlights of the cathedral is the guided tour of the crypt but unfortunately I did not get a chance to see this. The crypt was the first part of the building to be completed before funding ran out. A number of different designs for the cathedral were considered before the final building was completed in 1967.