Located in the heart of Oxford, the Radcliffe Camera is one of the city’s most recognizable and photographed landmarks, with its unusual shape and impressive dome. Completed in 1749, it was the first rotunda library in England, and today it is one of the main reading rooms of the Bodleian Library complex. The Basics
To view the interior of the Radcliffe Camera, book an extended Bodleian Library guided tour, which will also include the Divinity School, Convocation House, Chancellor's Court, Duke Humfrey's medieval library, and Gladstone Link. Many Oxford sightseeing tours, whether on foot or by bicycle, include a stop outside the Radcliffe Camera. Visit on a hop-on hop-off bus tour to see city sights at your leisure. Day trips from London and Brighton often feature a stop here as well.
The iconic building was funded by Dr. John Radcliffe and designed by James Gibbs. The exterior features three tiers of Headington stone and Burford limestone, surrounded by Corinthian columns. The building has two main reading rooms. In addition to the balconies of books that circle the walls of the library, there are over 600,000 books in rooms underneath Radcliffe Square.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Don’t forget your camera to capture iconic views of the Radcliffe Camera exterior.
- Photography is not permitted in working areas of the library.
- Bags, including handbags, must be left in lockers during guided library tours.
- Guided library tours are not wheelchair-accessible, as there are stairs involved.
- Children under the age of 10 are not permitted on guided library tours.
The Radcliffe Camera is located in central Oxford, next to the Bodleian Library. The easiest access is from High Street, next to St. Mary’s Church; from Brasenose College Lane; or from Catte Street. Oxford is easily accessible from London by train and bus.
When to Get There
The exterior of the Radcliffe Camera can be viewed at any time. Guided tours of the interior, as part of the extended Bodleian Library tour, are available on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Where to Find the Best Views of the Radcliffe Camera
One of the best views of the Radcliffe Camera is from the top of St. Mary’s Church Tower. There’s an entrance fee and 127 steps to climb, but the views are unparalleled. Other areas to get good views include: on Catte Street in front of Hertford College, from St. Mary’s Passage, from Brasenose Lane, and from the passage to the Bodleian Library.