its majestic assemblage of towers, and spires, and domes
Oxford is famous for the way in which the structures of the university rise above other features of the landscape to dominate the horizon. In the late nineteenth century Thomas Hardy paints an enduring picture of the young Jude Fawley, the hero of Jude the Obscure who has mythicized what is there denominated Christminster, venturing far out of his village and climbing a ladder at sunset with the hope of making out this far-off object of all his desires:
Some way within the limits of the stretch of landscape, points of light like the topaz gleamed. The air increased in transparency with the lapse of minutes, till the topaz points showed themselves to be the vanes, windows, wet roof slates, and other shining spots upon the spires, domes, freestone-work, and varied outlines that were faintly revealed. It was Christminster, unquestionably; either directly seen, or miraged in the peculiar atmosphere.
The spectator gazed on till the windows and vanes lost their shine, going out almost suddenly like extinguished candles. The vague city became veiled in mist. (I.iii)