13 May, 2013
Charlottesville Blogging: Walking Around the University of VirginiaPosted in : Travel, Travel Guide for Charlottesville, VA on by : The Gourmez
After a great brunch, Ben and I decided to take a stroll around the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson. President Jefferson also designed most of the notable architecture on the main campus, which is where we took that stroll. No official tour; we went where the pretty buildings and Ben’s Ingress portals called.
We parked in the Corner, which is a typical college town strip of affordable eateries and retail that I’m sure UVA’s students keep busy.
Crossing University Drive brought us to a set of entrance gates and the first appearance of mysterious marks in white paint.
Yep, that’s a double helping of “IMP.” The next mysterious mark was in the building just past the gates, part of the UVA medical center.
Hello, giant “Z”! I imagine it wouldn’t take me long to figure out what all the approved graffiti stands for, but I think I’d prefer to wonder. Across Hospital Drive is a lovely lawn peppered with literary quotes.
I figured it was the campus’s main lawn, but I discovered how wrong I was as we continued our journey around the side of Brook’s Hall. The Rotunda captured our eye next, as Jefferson designed it to do as the landmark building of the campus.
Yes, that’s another “Z” and “IMP”! Not to mention a lovely sculpture.
A couple of yoga practitioners meditating below a tree in front of the Rotunda seemed picturesque.
The Rotunda is impressive, but I found the nearby University Chapel prettier.
In the midday light, the stained glass was beautifully rosy.
Right behind the chapel is the West Range, part of the large Academical Village that borders the true great lawn of the college. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
The West Range dates to the early 1800s. It is still in use today as grad student housing and contains a gorgeous meeting room used by the Jefferson Society. But what surprised me was stumbling upon Edgar Allen’s Poe’s old room, furnished with period pieces and complete with a “Press Me!” button that gives Poe’s history with UVA.
If I were a UVA grad student, I would LOVE to live in the Academical Village. Walking past some hidden gardens toward the East Range only made me sadder I never had despite how hot those old brick rooms likely get in summer.
Right in the middle of the Ranges is the proper Lawn, and it’s a beautiful sight. On a warm Saturday afternoon, it bustled with residents, students, tour groups, and visiting families.
Across McCormick Road is a statue I found fascinating because I could picture it so easily as an illustration in science fiction stories.
It’s called the Aviator and was built to honor the first UVA student who died in World War I.
Our stroll finished after wandering a little farther into the university and then up Emmett Road, passing a lovely lake on campus grounds,
and some nice flora while rounding the tennis courts back to University Drive and the Corner.
It wasn’t an informational tour of UVA, but I found myself truly appreciative of the history those amazing buildings likely contain. I think I would have loved the significance of it all if I’d been a UVA student, and it’s definitely worth an afternoon of exploration.
For the complete set of photos from our weekend Charlottesville trip, click here.