What makes a university campus beautiful is often a combination of magnificent architecture, historic iconic buildings, lush gardens, famous libraries, sports facilities, and vast quads where students can mingle. Some of the world’s most fascinating campuses are so intricately woven into the fabric of the city in which they are located that the history of the city is defined by the history of the university.
In those cases, the entire city became a university campus, like you would see in Oxford or Cambridge. Newer campuses were playgrounds of some of the world’s best architects such as the National Autonomous University of Mexico or Yale University. Many of the most beautiful world campuses are recognized and preserved as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
1. Harvard University
Harvard University is a prestigious private Ivy League research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Harvard's main campus is centered over 209 acres on Harvard Yard in Cambridge about three miles from downtown Boston, and it is surrounded by Harvard Square neighborhood. The central administrative offices, main libraries, academic buildings such as Sever Hall and University Hall, Memorial Church, and most of the freshman dormitories are all located Harvard Yard. Twelve residential houses provide accommodation for sophomore, junior, and senior undergraduates. Nine of them are south of Harvard Yard and the other three are in a residential neighborhood northwest of the Yard at the Quadrangle. The university campus has a wide range of building styles that together provide a portrait of 300 years of informal history centering on American architecture.
Cambridge, MA 02138, Phone: 617-495-1000
2. Yale University
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Yale University is a private Ivy League research university founded in 1701 in New Haven, Connecticut. It is one of the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Yale's central campus occupies 260 acres in downtown New Haven. It includes the historic campus and a medical campus. The university athletic facilities are located in western New Haven on 500 acres, including the Yale Golf Course. Yale is known for its mostly Collegiate Gothic architecture, but it has several iconic modern buildings such as Louis Kahn's Yale University Art Gallery and Center for British Art. Yale has restored many important 19th-century mansions on Hillhouse Avenue, which Charles Dickens considered the most beautiful street in the United States.
New Haven, CT 06520, Phone: 203-432-4771
3. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a renowned public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. Founded in 1819, it is the flagship university of Virginia and a World Heritage site. The grounds feature stunning Jeffersonian architecture, and the campus is recognized as a model for university campuses in the country. It is most notable in the Academical Village, an area of the lawn that is a large, terraced green space surrounded by academic and residential buildings, the Range, the gardens, and the university around it. The main element of the design and the symbol of the university is the Rotunda at the north end of the lawn. The lawn and the rotunda became the model for designs of "centralized green areas" at universities all over the country.
Charlottesville, VA, Phone: 434-924-0311
4. Oxford University
The University of Oxford is a research university in Oxford, England. It is considered the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the second-oldest university in the world – there is some evidence that teaching was conducted at Oxford as early as 1096. The university does not have a main campus and the entire city is considered its campus, with colleges, departments, student accommodation, and other facilities located throughout the city. The Science Area, with most science departments, is the closest to a traditional campus. World-famous historic university buildings include the Radcliffe Camera, the Sheldonian Theatre, and the Examination Schools. The controversial new Castle Mill development of five-story student apartments overlooking the historic Port Meadow is now blocking views of the iconic spires in the city center.
Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
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5. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven or KU Leuven is a research university in the town of Leuven, Belgium. KU Leuven has been a European center of learning for almost six centuries. The university was founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V and is the oldest existing Catholic university in the world. KU Leuven's and the city of Leuven are so interconnected, it is difficult to say if the university is part of the town or the town is located within the university. In fact, the entire town can be considered the university campus. Its rich history can be seen from the number of historical university buildings. The medieval cloth hall, located close to the beautiful gothic town hall, is the university's administrative center. The beautifully restored historic Great Beguinage now houses students and guest professors. Numerous other colleges and residence halls are centuries old.
Oude Markt 13, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
6. Lomonosov Moscow State University
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Moscow State University is a public research university in Moscow, Russia founded in 1755 (it was then known as Lomonosov University). Since 1953, most of the schools have been located on Sparrow Hills, about five km from the Moscow city center. The main building was designed by architect Lev Vladimirovich Rudnev in the post-war era style as one of seven tiered neoclassical towers ordered by Joseph Stalin. The university administration, the Museum of Earth Sciences, and four of the main faculties are located in the main building, which is 240 m tall and 36 stories high. It is flanked by four huge wings with student and faculty accommodations. The building includes a concert hall, a theater, a museum, administrative services, a library, a swimming pool, and much more.
ul. Leninskiye Gory, 1, Moskva, Russia, 119991
7. National Autonomous University of Mexico
The National Autonomous University of Mexico or UNAM is a high ranking public research university in Mexico. UNAM's campus, designed by some of Mexico's best-known 20th century architects, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. UNAM's main campus "Ciudad Universitaria" (University City) is located in the southern part of Mexico City. The campus was designed to enclose the Estadio Olímpico Universitario, with about 40 schools and institutes, an ecological reserve, the Cultural Center, the Central Library, and several museums. It was completed in 1954 and is considered almost a separate region within Mexico City.
Av Universidad 3000, C P 04510 Mexico city Mexico city, Mexico
8. University of Colorado at Boulder
The University of Colorado at Boulder is a public research university in Boulder, Colorado, United States. It was founded in 1876, shortly before Colorado became a part of the Union. It is the flagship university of the University of Colorado system. The main university campus includes both academic and residential buildings and is located east of Chautauqua Auditorium and south of the Pearl Street Mall. The East Campus consists of research buildings and athletic fields and is located about a quarter mile from the main campus. The university’s unique architecture style is known as Tuscan Vernacular Revival. The oldest buildings, such as 1876 Old Main and 1923 Macky Auditorium, were built in the traditional East Coast school’s Collegiate Gothic style. Rough sandstone walls, multi-level red-tiled sloping roof, and Indiana limestone trim unify the style of all the buildings.
Boulder, CO 80309, Phone: 303-492-1411
9. Queen’s University Belfast
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Opened in 1849 as "Queen's College, Belfast," Queen's University Belfast is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university’s campus is located at the heart of the Queen's Quarter area of the city, one of the six cultural districts in Belfast. While the university considers its main site as a campus, its buildings are spread all over South Belfast, mainly University Road, University Square and Stranmillis Road. The magnificent Lanyon building is the main university building, located at the central part of the campus. Opened in 1849, it is a Northern Ireland landmark. The McClay Library, opened in 2006, is a stunning building with over two thousand reader spaces.
University Rd, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK
10. Stanford University
Leland Stanford Junior University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is ranked as one of the best universities in the world. Most of Stanford University is located on an 8,180-acre campus on the San Francisco Peninsula in what is known as Silicon Valley, about 37 miles from San Francisco. At the heart of the campus is the historic Main Quad with its California Mission Revival and Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The new Science and Engineering Quad incorporates modern and technological elements with timeless aesthetics and wide open outdoor space. The Hoover Tower observation platform offers a panoramic view of the campus. Some of the other notable buildings are the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion, the Cantor Arts Center, the Anderson Collection, Bing Concert Hall, and Memorial Auditorium.
450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, Phone: 650-723-2300
11. The University of Copenhagen
The University of Copenhagen was founded in 1479 and is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. The university consists of four campus areas. As Copenhagen is fairly small, it is easy to move from one campus to the other. All campus areas are completely integrated into the city of Copenhagen. Students are able to use all city facilities and in exchange add a lively vibe to the streets of Copenhagen. The university buildings range from historic structures in the medieval city to modern buildings that accommodate state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities. City Campus is right in the heart of Copenhagen, surrounded by everything the city has to offer. Students can escape city noise and study or relax in one of the many Copenhagen parks. The City Campus includes Center for Health and Society, Copenhagen Botanical Garden, Geocentre Copenhagen with the Department of Geography and Geology, and the University Quadrangle, used mostly for administration.
Nørregade 10, 1165 København, Denmark
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12. Trinity College
Trinity College is a college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduate students. The main entrance to the college is through the Great Gate on the way to the Great Court. In 1704, the university constructed the first astronomical observatory on top of the gatehouse. Great Court was built between 1599 and 1608. To make space for it, Thomas Nevile removed several buildings from this site, including most of the former college of Michaelhouse. Nevile's Court, constructed in 1614, is located between Great Court and the river. Cloisters run around the court, providing walkways to the college and Wren library. Wren Library is one of Cambridge's most famous and well-endowed libraries. New Court or King's Court; was built in 1825 in Tudor-Gothic style.
University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1TQ, UK
13. Tsinghua University
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Tsinghua University is a major research university in Beijing that was established in 1911. Numerous Chinese leaders in business, politics, academia, and culture graduated from Tsinghua University. Its campus is located in northwest Beijing in the Haidian district. This district was specially designated for universities and other academic institutions. The campus occupies the former Qing Dynasty royal gardens with Chinese-style landscaping and traditional buildings. There are also many buildings in the Western-style, showing the American influence in China history. In 2010 Forbs and a panel of architects declared Tsinghua University's campus one of the most beautiful in the world. The university's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology is located on a campus in a northern suburb of Beijing.
30 Shuangqing Rd, Haidian Qu, Beijing Shi, China
14. University of British Columbia
Established in 1908, the University of British Columbia is a public research university with two campuses: in Vancouver and Kelowna, British Columbia. It is the oldest university in British Columbia. The university’s main campus is located at Point Grey, about six miles from downtown Vancouver. It has several beaches nearby as well as magnificent views of the North Shore mountains. The 1,890-acre Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a green buffer between the campus and the city. The campus is home to the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research, with a collection of more than 8,000 kinds of plants. The garden and the center are used for research, conservation, and education. The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is also part of the campus. It is home to the Chan Shun Concert Hall, the Royal Bank Cinema, and Telus Studio Theatre.
2329 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
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15. University of Cambridge
Founded in 1209 and in 1231 granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III, the University of Cambridge is a public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is one of the oldest universities in the English-speaking world. The university occupies a core of the city of Cambridge, making it the de facto university campus. The students make up almost 20 percent of the town's population and heavily influence its life in all aspects. Most of the older colleges are located near the center and river Cam. Some of the university’s most important buildings are King's College Chapel, the history faculty building designed by renowned James Stirling, and the Cripps Building at St John's College. Queens' College features beautiful early patterned brickwork.
The Old Schools, Trinity Ln, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK
16. University of Capetown
© University of Capetown
The University of Cape Town is a public research university founded in 1829. It is located in Cape Town, South Africa and is South Africa’s oldest higher education institute. The main teaching campus or Upper Campus is part of the Rhodes Estate on the slopes of Devil's Peak. This fairly small campus contains faculties of Science, Engineering, Commerce, and Humanities, the Smuts Hall and Fuller Hall residences. In the center of Upper Campus is Memorial Hall, the site of students’ graduation, examinations, and many ceremonial events. Upper Campus is also home to the Chancellor Oppenheimer library with 1.3 million books. .The Middle and Lower Campuses are separated from the Main Campus by university’s sports fields. They contain the Law faculty, the School of Economics, the South African College of Music, student residences, university administrative offices, and sporting facilities.
Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700, South Africa
17. University of Coimbra
The University of Coimbra is a public university in Coimbra, Portugal. The university was originally established in 1290 in Lisbon. After a number of relocations until it was moved permanently to its current location in Coimbra. The university spreads through many neighborhoods of Coimbra, but three key areas create the campus. The first one is a historical site of both the town and the university and includes the Royal Palace of Coimbra, the colleges on Sofia Street where the history of the university first began, the Schools Courtyard (the heart of the University with its Mozarabic influences), one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and the buildings of the Pombaline Reformation. Campus II is located in Morocco Pine Forest near the Mondego River. The Health Sciences Campus is located in Celas near the University Of Coimbra Hospital.
Pátio das Escolas, 3004-531 Coimbra, Portugal
18. Aarhus University
Aarhus University is a public research university founded in 1928 in Aarhus, Denmark. Aarhus is one of Denmark's oldest and largest universities. Its main campus encircles the University Park in central Aarhus. The design includes a range of buildings in a fairly large area, but all buildings are made of the yellow brick and roof tiles. Construction began in 1932 and is still ongoing. The original main building was one of the first functionalist public buildings in Denmark. It is recognized as one of the most important architectural works in Danish cultural history. The park and campus have been expanded and in 1957 the old park of Vennelystparken south of the University park was included.
Nordre Ringgade 1, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
19. University of Edinburgh
Founded in 1582, the University of Edinburgh is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world. The university is intricately woven into the fabric of the city of Edinburgh, and many of the notable buildings in the historic Old Town are part of the university. They include St Cecilia's Hall, the Scotland's oldest purpose-built concert hall; Teviot Row House, the world’s oldest purpose-built student union building; and the restored 17th-century Mylne's Court, now a student residence. The university has expanded its campuses to five more sites in Edinburgh: Central, King's Buildings, BioQuarter, Western General, and Easter Bush.
Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK, Phone: +44-13-16-50-10-00
20. University of Helsinki
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The University of Helsinki was founded in Turku in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Abo but it moved to Helsinki in 1829 and was renamed. It is Finland’s oldest and largest university with a wide range of disciplines. Originally, the entire university was located in the center of Helsinki, but because of its rapid growth additional premises have been built or acquired in other areas. The university now has four main campuses. The historical Centre Campus reflects the architectural style of this historic part of the city, and it includes the Faculties of Theology, Law, Arts, Behavioural Sciences, and Social Sciences as well as administrative buildings. Most of the buildings are of major architectural significance, and their style ranges from the dominating Neo-Classical and the Jugendstil to 20th century Modernism.
Yliopistonkatu 4, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
21. University of Salamanca
The University of Salamanca is a higher education institution located in the city of Salamanca near Madrid. The university was founded in 1134 and given the royal charter by King Alfonso IX in 1218. The university has nine teaching and administrative campuses. In the city of Salamanca, the schools are grouped into six campuses: the Historical campus, Campus of Sciences, Campus de Canalejas, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, Campus Ciudad Jardín, and Campus Villamayor. A campus located in the Salamanca’s historic district features a magnificent group of buildings in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, including the Renaissance court with beautiful arcades in the center of the building. The oldest university building in Salamanca, now the Rectorate, is the old Hospital del Estudio, built in 1413.
37008 Salamanca, Spain
22. University of St Andrews
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The University of St Andrews is a public university in St Andrews, Scotland. It is the oldest of Scotland’s four historic universities and one of the oldest in the English-speaking world. The university has teaching facilities, libraries, student housing, and other buildings scattered around the town, but it has two main sites. The first is the United College, called the Quad or St Salvator's on North Street, which serves as a teaching space and space for student events. The second campus site is St Mary's College on South Street. Many of the university buildings date from the Middle Ages. They include 1450 St. Salvator’s College, 1512 St. Leonard’s College, and the University Library, founded in 1612. St. Mary’s college, founded in 1537, teaches theology.
St Andrews KY16 9AJ, UK
23. Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts
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The École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts is a fine arts school of PSL Research University in Paris, France. The school campus consists of a complex of buildings located between the quai Malaquais and the rue Bonaparte on about two hectares in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés section of Paris. The main entrance is flanked by massive carved heads of Pierre Paul Puget and Nicolas Poussin created in 1838 by Michel-Louis Victor Mercier. A symmetrical courtyard and the largest central building, the Palais des Études, were created by architect Felix Duban in 1830. The core of the campus complex is the Hémicycle d'Honneur, a semi-circular theater located within the Palais. Other major buildings are the 1820 Bâtiment des Loges, the modified cloister called the Cour des Mûriers, the 1862 Bâtiment des Expositions, the 1750 Hôtel de Chimay, and a block of studios built circa 1945.
14 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France
24. Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is a private research university founded in 1834 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The university’s original location was in Wake Forest, north of Raleigh, North Carolina. The entire college moved to Winston-Salem In 1946 and 14 new buildings were constructed on the land donated by Reynolds Foundation. The new campus was constructed in the Georgian style. The Reynolda Campus, the main campus for Wake Forest University, houses the undergraduate colleges, three graduate schools, and half the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The Reynolda campus is made of the two interlinked quads, divided by the main administrative building, also the main dining facility, and Reynolda Hall. The two units are called North and South Campus.
1834 Wake Forest Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27109, Phone: 336-758-5000
25. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Founded in 1991, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is a public research university located in Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong. The university campus occupies a 60-hectare site in the countryside at the northern part of Clear Water Bay Peninsula overlooking Port Shelter. The campus is set on a sloped terrain, so the buildings and facilities are built on terraces carved out of the hillside. The academic facilities occupy the top-level terraces. Undergraduate residence and sporting facilities are located at the seafront. The terraces are linked by roads and a network of footbridges and elevators.
Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong
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