Top 10 College Campuses to Visit
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Not many universities can say they were conceived and designed – from campus construction down to the first curriculum – by one of our nation’s founding fathers and a former president. Yet from the founding of the University of Virginia in 1819 (it’s located in Charlottesville, about 100 miles south of Washington, D.C.), Thomas Jefferson had his hands in just about everything. With an architectural legacy that continues to present day, Jefferson’s Academical Village – its great Lawn surrounded by the university’s main buildings and capped by the majestic Rotunda – serves as a model for other college campuses across the country. In 1987, the grounds here (along with Jefferson’s home at Monticello) were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only college in the U.S. with this designation. The university also celebrates its legacy every year on Founder’s Day, April 13 (Jefferson’s birthday), with a tree-planting ceremony and honorary medals (in lieu of degrees) awarded to those who best exemplify the President’s ideals. Though the first Rotunda burned down in 1895, restoration (conducted by Stanford White, a prominent Gilded Age architect) at the turn of the 20th century and subsequent renovations for the nation’s bicentennial returned the iconic structure to Jefferson’s original design. Free guided tours of the Rotunda and the Lawn are available year-round (except during winter break and the first half of May), while maps for self-guided tours of the Academical Village and the surrounding Pavilion Gardens are also on hand inside the Rotunda or from the visitor center. For art lovers, exhibitions at the UVa Art Museum feature prints ranging from Old Masters to modern day, hailing from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond (admission is free).
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