Walk in the footsteps of presidents and Nobel laureates at one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States.
The oldest and most famous university in the United States, Harvard University has been educating the country’s brightest young minds since it was founded in 1636. Along with seven other prestigious academic institutes in the north east, Harvard University is a member of the USA’s Ivy League group of schools. The term “Ivy League” was created in the 1930s for a college football competition, and refers to the presence of the ivy plant on the university buildings.
The University takes its name from John Harvard, the first official benefactor of the institution. When Harvard died, he left half of his estate and a library of 320 volumes to one of the colleges. It was considered to be such an impressive donation that the university was renamed in his honour.
Harvard University is not actually in Boston itself. It’s located just outside the city in beautiful and extensive grounds that cover over 154 hectares. It’s a good idea to allow at least a couple of hours to visit the University, to appreciate the architecture and museums or simply soak up the atmosphere.
Enter the university is through the historic Johnston Gate. You can pick up maps, brochures and guides from the Harvard Information Center, which is located in the Holyoke Centre Arcade. It is definitely worth taking advantage of the great historical tours on offer here – group tours are led by students and last an hour.
The true heart of the university is the famous Harvard Yard, which in itself covers 10 hectares of grounds. Many of the most iconic architecture and monuments can be found here, including the lovely Widener Library that was built in 1915. The Library has over 92 kilometres of shelving which contain over 3 million different books! Harvard Yard is also home to Sever Hall, the Wren Building and University Hall.
Alongside the many architectural treasures, Harvard features several good museums, including the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. After a few hours sightseeing, join the students and faculty in enjoying a coffee and some food in one of the many cafés and eateries located around Harvard Square.
Harvard University is located in the small city of Cambridge, some seven kilometres from Boston, and is easily reached by bus or subway. If you choose to take a car remember that you will be charged a fee for on-campus parking.