Oxford’s ageless charm is captured for a modern movie audience

  Anson Yu  /    Dec 7, 2015

Strange as it may sound, we have to thank Adolf Hitler for saving the historic British city of Oxford from destruction. Unlike London which was bombed during World War II, Hitler ordered his troops to spare the city. His reason? The Führer had plans to make Oxford England’s new capital.

Whether Hitler actually visited the city himself is a mystery. History says he did not. But a relative of Hitler claimed that the would-be conqueror lived in England for six months just after the end of the First World War. This claim has not been backed by solid evidence. What is undeniable is the charm that Oxford exudes. Once you come here, you are almost certain that had Hitler visited this city himself, he would indeed have fallen in love with it.

One of the reasons behind Oxford’s charm are the historic buildings, some of which were built as far back as the 11th Century when history first mentions the city as a center for learning. Because of these buildings, movie companies often come to Oxford for location shoots for films like the Harry Potter film series.

Among the sites chosen was Christ Church, the largest and most famous of all the 38 colleges that make up the university. The producers thought that the college’s magnificent stone staircase and landing was perfect as the setting for the fictional Hogwarts School. The school’s dining hall, the Tudor Hall, provided inspiration for Hogwarts’ Great Hall.

Another building inside Oxford that was used in the Harry Potter series is the Bodleian Library. One of the oldest libraries in Europe, it was the setting for Hogwarts’ school infirmary. The creative team also shot in the library the famous sequence of Harry’s professor teaching dance lessons to the students.

One of the more distinctive buildings that make up the Bodleian Library is the Radcliffe Camera. The distinctive circular building was built in the mid-1700s to house a science library; it now serves as the reading room for students. A few scenes of Val Kilmer’s movie The Saint were also shot in the Radcliffe Camera.

Another Oxford landmark that made it to the cinema is The Bridge of Sighs. Built in 1914, the covered bridge was used to link the old and new buildings of the Hertford College. It was used as a backdrop in the film X-Men: First Class, the prequel to the popular X-Men film series. Oxford figured prominently in the popular movie as the place where hero Professor Charles Xavier studied and did his thesis on mutation before being recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Read more about this story in the Change Issue of Experience Travel & Living Magazine, out now at your favorite bookstore and nearest magazine stands.