Cambridge is a university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire. It is located on the River Cam approximately 55 miles (89 km) north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700.
Cambridge became an important trading centre during the Roman and Viking ages, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area as early as the Bronze Age. The first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although modern city status was not officially conferred until 1951.
The city is most famous as the home of the University of Cambridge, which was founded in 1209 and consistently ranks among the best universities in the world. The buildings of the university include King’s College Chapel, Cavendish Laboratory, and the Cambridge University Library, one of the largest legal deposit libraries in the world. The city’s skyline is dominated by several college buildings, along with the spire of the Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church, and the chimney of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Anglia Ruskin University, which evolved from the Cambridge School of Art and the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, also has its main campus in the city.
Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology Silicon Fen, which contains industries such as software and bioscience and many start-up companies born out of the university. Over forty percent of the workforce have a higher education qualification, more than twice the national average. The Cambridge Biomedical Campus, one of the largest biomedical research clusters in the world, includes the headquarters of AstraZeneca, a hotel, and the relocated Royal Papworth Hospital.
The Strawberry Fair music and arts festival and Midsummer Fair are held on Midsummer Common, and the annual Cambridge Beer Festival takes place on Jesus Green.
The city is adjacent to the M11 and A14 roads. Cambridge station is less than an hour from London King’s Cross railway station.
Cambridge played a unique role in the invention of modern football. The first game of association football took place at Parker’s Piece and the game’s first set of rules were drawn up by members of the university in 1848. The Cambridge Rules were first played on Parker’s Piece and had a ‘defining influence on the 1863 Football Association rules’ which again were first played on Parker’s Piece.
The city is home to Cambridge United FC, who play at the Abbey Stadium. The University of Cambridge’s cricket ground, Fenner’s, is located in the city and is one of the home grounds for minor counties team Cambridgeshire CCC. The Cambridgeshire Cricket Association operates an amateur club cricket league with six adult divisions, including numerous clubs in the city, plus junior divisions. Most of the university colleges also operate their own teams, and there are several casual village cricket teams that play in the city suburbs. The city is represented in both codes of Rugby football. The Rugby union club is Cambridge R.U.F.C. and Cambridge Lions represent the city in rugby league
The River Cam – that runs through the city centre – is used for boating. The university and its colleges are well known for rowing and the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association, formed in 1868, organises competitive rowing on the river outside of the university. Rowing clubs based in the city include City of Cambridge RC, Cambridge ’99 RC, Cantabrigian RC and Rob Roy BC.
Parts of the Cam are alod used for recreational punting – a type of boating in which the craft is propelled by pushing against the river bed with a quant pole.
Cambridge Swimming Club, Cambridge Dive team and City of Cambridge Water Polo Club are all based at Parkside Swimming Pool.
Cambridge is also well known for its vibrant, and at times high-profile, parkour and freerunning scene – as well as:
Home to two real tennis courts (out of about 50 in the world)
- American Football – Cambridgeshire Cats
- Baseball – Cambridge Royals
- Two cycling clubs – Team Cambridge and Cambridge Cycling Club.
- Athletics – Cambridge & Coleridge Athletic Club
- Handball – Cambridge Handball Club
- Hockey clubs; Cambridge City Hockey Club, Cambridge South Hockey Club and Cambridge Nomads.
- Polo – Cambridge Polo Club, based in Barton, just outside the city
Cambridge is also known for the sporting events between the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, especially the rugby union Varsity Match and the Boat Race, though many of these do not take place within either Cambridge or Oxford.
Cambridge’s main traditional theatre is the Arts Theatre, a venue with 666 seats in the town centre. Within the city there are several notable museums, some run by the University of Cambridge Museums consortium and others independent of it. Live music venues hosting popular music in the city include the Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge Junction and the Portland Arms, as well as The Blue Moon. Cambridge contains Kettle’s Yard gallery of modern and contemporary art and the Heong Gallery which opened to the public in 2016 at Downing College. Anglia Ruskin University operates the publicly accessible Ruskin Gallery within the Cambridge School of Art. Several fairs and festivals take place in Cambridge, mostly during the British summer.