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The Thames Valley Sights

Radcliffe Camera and Bodleian Library

  • Broad St. Map It
  • Oxford
  • Library/Archive

Fodor's Review

A vast library, the domed Radcliffe Camera is Oxford's most spectacular building, built in 1737–49 by James Gibbs in Italian Baroque style. It's usually surrounded by tourists with cameras trained at its golden-stone walls. The Camera contains part of the Bodleian Library's enormous collection, begun in 1602 and one of six "copyright libraries" in the U.K. Like the Library of Congress in the United States, this means it must by law contain a copy of every book printed in Great Britain. The shelves are therefore very crowded—the collection grows by about 5,000 items a week. It also contains valuable treasures such as a Gutenberg Bible and a Shakespeare First Folio. Tours reveal the magnificent Duke Humfrey's Library, which was the original chained library and completed in 1488. (The ancient tomes are dusted once a decade.) Guides can show you the spots used for Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films. Arrive early to secure tickets for the two to six daily tours. 10:30 am tours can be prebooked, as can the extended tours on Wednesday and Saturday. Otherwise tours are first-come, first-served. Audio tours, the only tours open to kids under 11, don't require reservations. Call ahead to confirm times, as tours don't run on days when private events are booked at the library.

Sight Information


Broad St., Oxford, OX1 3BG, England

Map It



Sight Details:

  • Audio tour £2.50, minitour £5, standard tour £7, extended tour £13
  • Bodleian and Divinity School weekdays 9–5, Sat. 9–4:30, Sun. 11–5; sometimes closed for events, call to confirm


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