Feeling and Smelling Cambridge:

Making your way around the Marketplace

Whether you have grown up in Cambridge for your whole life or just here to visit, the marketplace is the very heart of the city, full of life, things to eat, flowers to smell, books to flick through, and more! 

Market square has been the very centre of city life since the Middle Ages, where local people from all around Cambridge would come to trade and chat with one another. When you go round the marketplace, just imagine what it might have been like to have traded your goods in medieval times, and how it might be different today. 

In this activity, you will be heading round the marketplace in search of different items, to see how they feel and smell, and to see all the goods on offer at this historic marketplace. The market is not only full of different textures and scents, but there are also many different cultures and cuisines represented there! As you go round, see if you can identify as many different countries and national flags as you can, and see how lots of the world is packed into this little old square of Cambridge.
You can write down, draw, or share your answers with whoever is doing this activity with you.

Can you find…



  • An old book








What does the book feel like? How do the pages feel in your hands? Is the cover hard or soft? What does the book smell like? New or old?


  • A brightly coloured flower 


What does the flower feel like? What does it smell like?  


  • A piece of jewellery

What piece of jewellery did you choose? What does it feel like? 


  • Three different pieces of fruit


What pieces of fruit did you choose? What do they all feel like? What do they smell like? Are they similar? How are they different?


  • A loaf of bread

What does the loaf of bread smell like? How does it feel, crunchy or soft?


  • Sweeties!

What do the sweeties feel like? What do they smell like? Sugary or sour?


  • Food from Greece


What kind of food can you get at the Greek stall? What does the food smell like? How many other nationalities can you find at the market?


Spot the difference between the market then and the market now!


The Market has changed a lot over the years. This is most obvious when you go to the very centre of the square. Do you remember seeing the little centrepiece surrounded by flowers in the first image? At the centre of the Market lie the remains of G. M. Hills’ Gothic conduit of 1855 (a structure which is used to carry fresh water to the marketplace). Hill’s conduit was mostly demolished in 1953 and the water supply cut off in 1960.