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Trip List by viviandarkbloom

Higher Learning: The Oldest Extant Universities in the World

6 Apr 2006  Academic
3.5 of 5 stars based on 7 votes

It's not surprising that some of the most interesting cities in the world have the oldest educational institutions, or that these institutions have, because of their location, brought about the growth of intellectually thriving places to live and visit. Here's a list of ten of the oldest colleges in the world that are still up and running. Even if your grades are nowhere near good enough to get accepted, you might enjoy the architecture and academic vibe of some of these places.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Cairo, Bologna, Paris, Nanjing, Oxford, Modena, Cambridge, Salamanca, Padua, Naples
  • Category: Other
  • Appeals to: Business travellers , Couples/romantics, Singles, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Cairo, Egypt: Al-Azhar University
    Mosque of Al-Azhar, Cairo, Cairo Governorate

    A beautiful mosque is home to what is largely considered the oldest university in the world, and a widely regarded center of Islamic scholarship since 975 A.D.

  • 2. Bologna, Italy: University of Bologna
    Bologna, Province of Bologna

    Founded in 1088. The oldest university in Europe, and possibly the Western world. Notable for its specialty in canon and civil law.

  • 3. Paris, France: University of Paris (the Sorbonne)
    La Sorbonne, Paris, Ile-de-France

    Founded in 1150. Now divided among several autonomous universities. But still the oldest in France, and second-oldest in Europe.

  • 4. Nanjing, China: Nanjing University
    Nanjing, Jiangsu

    Known under a variety of different names since its inception in 258 A.D., the modern university as it is known today was formed in 1902.

  • 5. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University
    University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire

    The oldest existing English language university in the world. Evidence of teaching there exists as early as 1096.

  • 6. Modena, Italy: University of Modena
    Modena, Province of Modena

    Founded in 1175. Modena is usually best known for its balsamic vinegar, but being home to one of the oldest universities in Europe is worthy of pride too!

  • 7. Cambridge, England, UK: University of Cambridge
    University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

    Founded in 1209--possibly by scholars who left Oxford in a dispute! This no doubt contributes to the ongoing rivalry between these two colleges. Cambridge has produced more Nobel laureates, though.

  • 8. Salamanca, Spain: Universidad de Salamanca
    Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Province of Salamanca

    Founded in 1218 and located in a town northwest of Spain's capital of Madrid. The country's oldest university is still considered a research school of some importance.

  • 9. Padua, Italy: University of Padua
    University of Padua, Padua, Province of Padua

    Founded in 1222. After Bologna, it is the oldest university in Italy, and still holds a very prestigious academic reputation. Galileo held the chair of physics here, and Padua was the first university to grant a degree to a woman (in 1678).

  • 10. Naples, Italy: University of Naples
    Naples, Province of Naples

    Founded in 1224 by the Emperor Frederick II--one of the first universities to be started by a secular ruler.