If you’re a travel enthusiast, you probably have a bucket list of places you want to go and experiences you’d like to have. For active travellers, these probably include such things as snorkelling in the Mediterranean Sea, snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb, or visiting a vibrant Asian city like Bangkok. These and many other action-packed trips are undoubtedly a lot of fun and highly memorable experiences, but as they say, sometimes it’s good to lay back and smell the roses. In terms of travel, that could involve visiting museums, ancient ruins, or historical sites of interest, but why are such places worth considering, and what are the best places to visit?
History is what shapes modern life
We are all a product of the events and cultures that have gone before. It shapes the way countries and peoples behave right now and directs the progress of civilisation, and for that reason alone, history is a fascinating topic. It also teaches you a great deal about why countries have developed the way they have, and what has influenced their culture. If you think history is dull, prepare yourself for a surprise because some of the most interesting and stimulating tourist attractions revolve around historical buildings, records and artefacts.
The ruins of Greece and Roman Italy are famed worldwide, but there are many other extraordinary ancient buildings and historic sites all across the world. For example, there’s the seventh-century ruins at Leptis Magna on the Libyan coast, the Doi, Yokoji and Oka castle ruins in Japan, and the ancient ruins of Quilmes in Patagonia to name but a few. These are all relics from far back in history, and visiting them will give you a sense of awe at the achievements of the people who built them. Many ruins are located in remote places that present quite a physical challenge to reach. Just think about the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru, perched on the top of a mountain. That’s an experience to get your heart racing!
One of the most striking and intimate ways to connect with history is through the creations of artists and sculptors. The great art collections of the world are a window into societies throughout bygone ages, right up to the present day. The Louvre is one of the most well-known places to see original artworks, including such timeless masterpieces as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. If you are visiting an art gallery without being an aficionado of art history, then the best way to enjoy the experience and get the most out of it is to join a guided tour. You can book tours online in advance with companies like The Paris Guy, who specialise in bringing these subjects to life; learn more about this now.
Who doesn’t love the dinosaurs? If the success of franchises like Jurassic Park is anything to go by, the answer is no-one! The work of palaeontologists and other archaeological experts has brought these creatures from millions of years ago right to the forefront of modern culture. Seeing the remains of such fantastical creatures can’t fail to interest and impress you, and if you have kids, they will be bursting with excitement at the thought of doing anything dino-related. As well as the famed dinosaurs, there are all sorts of other extinct creatures and plants that have left behind fossilised remains for us to wonder over. Having seen fossils for real and found out more about them, it can inspire you to hunt for your own, which is an adventure in itself.
If you want to get involved in finding ancient relics and historic settlements, you don’t have to be a professional archaeologist to get involved. You can book holidays at archaeological digs where you will assist the professionals and learn about any objects that are discovered. It’s very much like a treasure hunt, except its normally interesting artefacts rather than buried hordes of gold and jewels – although you never know! These kinds of working holidays are usually very reasonably priced as you are helping with the dig, so this is a perfect activity if you’re a cash-starved student for example.
There are historical re-enactment groups in many locations who regularly bring the experience of such events as the American War of Independence, The English Civil War, and the grim experience of the First World War trenches to life. The people involved are passionate about their subjects, and make every effort to ensure the details are factually accurate. Being in close proximity to the noise of a battle being played out just as it would have been at the time can transport you into the period like nothing else. You might even feel inspired to join in, and experience the cut and thrust of battle yourself. It’s not just re-enactments of wars that can take you back in time, either. For instance, you could help crew a Viking ship, or compete as a knight in a medieval jousting competition.
The inevitable fact about the present is that as soon as it’s over, it’s history. That means the back catalogue of historical attractions is continually expanding, and even now, you may be amazed to look back and realise that the toys, TV shows and appliances of your youth are being preserved for posterity. Time inexorably marches onward, and all our days are the history of tomorrow. When you consider what historical places or exhibitions might interest you, don’t forget modern history, and the years you have lived through yourself. Galleries such as the Tate Modern may be full of twentieth and twenty-first-century artworks, but they are just as valid a part of history as 65-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex bones.
Until you see history up close and personal, it won’t have the impact to take your breath away. You need to see the size of ancient ruins, look at the craftsmanship in detail, and experience the feeling of being in close proximity to these ghosts from the past to truly appreciate their magnificence.