I’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a few friends and family members visit me in Oxford throughout my year abroad here, meaning that I’ve developed a bit of a “tour” of Oxford that I like to take them on. One of my favorite stops on this mini tour is Carfax Tower, which my dad and I discovered when we first arrived in Oxford. Not many people seem to talk about it, but I think it’s one of the fun hidden gems in town!
Carfax Tower (also known as St. Martin’s Tower) is located at the intersection of St. Aldate’s, Cornmarket Street, Queen Street, and High Street in Oxford. Standing 74 feet tall, the top of this tower offers an amazing view of the surrounding city, especially on days when the sky is clear. The tower was built in the twelfth century as a church, but now it is mainly a tourist attraction that you can pay a few pounds to climb up. The steps up to the top of the tower spiral upwards in quite a narrow tunnel, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to walk all the way to the top and see the open sky once more.
I love climbing up Carfax Tower for many reasons. Not only does it provide a remarkable view of the city streets below and the rolling hills surrounding the town, but it also lets you get away from the bustle of everyday life for a few minutes and take in a different perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of reading, researching, writing essays, going to lectures, and meeting with tutors during term. Sometimes it’s nice to remind yourself of where you actually are: this wonderful city with so much history, beauty, and places to explore.
If you’re ever in Oxford, be sure to check out this tower! (And if you’re ever visiting me, get ready to climb to the top!)
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Have you ever climbed Carfax Tower? Do you like showing people around places you’ve lived or visited? Let me know in the comments section below!