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As well as being a charming, quintessentially British city, Cambridge is full of great places to eat and drink and also offers a variety of fantastic attractions and activities to explore. But there’s so much more to this city than meets the eye.

Here we reveal seven fascinating facts about Cambridge so you can start planning an unforgettable trip to one of the most captivating cities in the country.

1. It’s home to a very odd mystery

The statue of King Henry VIII proudly decorates Trinity College’s Great Gate, but look a little closer and you’ll discover that all isn’t as it seems.

The statue, which dates back to 1615, shows the King holding a golden orb and, oddly, a chair leg. The sword was thought to have been taken by one of the city’s ‘Night Climbers’, a nickname for students who took to the roofs of the University’s colleges after dark. Some 30 years or so ago, the missing sword was replaced by this alternative weapon.

2. It was originally called ‘Grantabrycge’

Cambridge has a long and fascinating history, and whilst the city we know and love was founded in 875, it was famously the site of many Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman settlements. Since its foundation, however, the city hasn’t always been known as Cambridge.

After being conquered by the Vikings during those early years, the fortified town was called a burgh.

It then went by the name of ‘Grantabrycge’ (which means ‘bridge over the river Granta’) from the 10th century when it was captured by the Saxons.

3. It’s the smartest city on the planet

The University of Cambridge’s eminent alumnus is well known around the world. It’s educated some of the planet’s most notable academics, many of which went on to achieve great things and win a flurry of accolades.

To date, the University’s alumnus has won 121 Nobel Prizes, 11 Fields Medals, and 7 Turing Awards in total, and many more Olympic medals (194 to be exact!).

4. It has a history of very unusual pets

One notable character that attended the University of Cambridge was English poet Lord Byron.

Byron attended Trinity College from 1805 to 1808. He quickly became known not just for his way with words, but his love of animals after discovering that his beloved dogs weren’t permitted on campus.

We’ll let History Hustle explain more about his incredible tale:

“Byron had​ a lot​ of pets. So he decided to rebel by finding a cheeky loophole. That loophole? Bringing a tamed pet bear to the campus.

There was no explicit rule barring bears at Trinity College, so Byron argued with college officials that he had every legal right to bring the bear. They actually agreed.”

5. It’s where Crick and Watson had a light bulb moment

Nobel Prize winners Francis Crick and James Watson famously made a game-changing DNA discovery in the city of Cambridge. But unbeknown to most, this didn’t take place in a laboratory, it happened in The Eagle Pub.

You can still visit The Eagle Pub today. Be sure to keep your eye out for the open window to the courtyard.

It’s been kept open for 300 years after the pub caught fire and everyone escaped apart from a young barmaid who couldn’t get out of the window.

6. It’s credited with the invention of football

Cambridge has been the site of many amazing discoveries and inventions, but here’s one you probably wouldn’t have expected.

The city has one of the earlier records of the beautiful game, which took place in 1579. The sport was developed further by the University of Cambridge, with one set of rules or ‘laws’ (known as the Cambridge Rules) developed to ensure it could compete with other schools.

7. It’s a destination made for book lovers

If books, not football, are what interests you, you’ll want to check out Cambridge University’s many libraries. T over 100 libraries in total, but The Wren Library is a must-visit thanks to its original manuscript of Winnie the Pooh and Isaac Newton’s notebook, which just so happens to contain a lock of his hair!

Have all these fascinating facts whetted your appetite for a Cambridge city break? See the destination at the centre of it all by booking your stay with us today.

You can also find more information on how to book a city break with confidence post-Covid.