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University of Virginia

The history, the architecture and the grounds of the University of Virginia make it a must-see site during any visit to the region.

Established by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, and opened in 1825 to 123 students, the University of Virginia, the only university in the United States to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lends a stately grace to the city. The university became the first in the United States to allow specializations in a diversity of fields, breaking away from the traditional three subjects, Medicine, Law and Religion, offered by most at the time, and allowing students to study the likes of Astronomy, Architecture, Philosophy, and Political Science. Jefferson explained, "This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead."

Despite an encounter with General Custer's men in 1865, where a number of the Pavillions were damaged, the university's main buildings remained intact - ensuring that the likes of the Rotunda, a building Jefferson modelled after the Pantheon in Rome, can be appreciated by all who visit the campus.

183 years since it first opened its doors, the university is now home to some 20,000 students, has 10 schools in Charlottesville, and offers a myriad of different courses, having grown into a highly-respected place of learning.

To find out more about visiting the university and its grounds, please visit our Historic Charlottesville section.

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