One of the great joys of travelling is that occasionally you come across a place where you can not only hear about history but can actually feel it, see it and touch it. Rather than in dry museums, where the past can seem remote, vague and as dusty as the exhibits, these are places where the past comes to life and assaults your senses, imbuing you with a greater understanding of history and a much better travelling experience. These are three such places.
Rome must be first on this list. It is easy to be overwhelmed here by not just the significance of the history all around you but also by the sheer amount of it. It seems that every corner you turn brings you to another world famous monument towering above the cluttered streets. As if the Roman remains from the BC period were not enough the Vatican and its surroundings continue the story right up to the present day. Of course the conditions of the Roman remains do demand a little imagination, but the impressive size of the Colosseum and character of the Forum cannot but enchant the visitor and transport them back to the glory days of the Roman Empire. Children especially find Rome a magical place as it can be the first realisation that history is not just a collection of stories but a fragile link with our collective past.
Top 2 hotels in Rome Colosseum area
Globe Theatre, London
The Globe Theatre in London has a few similarities with the Colosseum in Rome, but primarily the ability to create an atmosphere that makes the modern city surroundings melt away. A tour of the theatre is a good way to get an idea of the natural home of Shakespeare plays, but nothing can compare to seeing one performed there. The educational potential of the Globe can hardly be overestimated, especially for those who believe that education should never end. Whether in developing a wider understanding of the Elizabethan world or a more focused literary exploration, the theatre can provide young and old alike with an experience more rewarding than textbooks and more satisfying than a museum.
Top 2 hotels near The Globe, in London
- Comfort Inn London – double room from £90,00/€102,60
- Comfort Inn SW8 – double room from £63,00/€71,80
Lidice, Czech Republic
Acting as a chilling comparison to the Colosseum and the Globe Theatre is the remains of the village of Lidice, outside Prague in the Czech Republic. In 1942 the Nazis came to Lidice and vowed to wipe it from the face of the earth in revenge for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague a few days earlier. The men were rounded up and shot, the women were taken to concentration camps and the children were either sent to live with German families, or, if they were too old to be assimilated, they were gassed. Today a peaceful field is left where Lidice once stood, with an understated museum overlooking the sight from a memorial complex. When people use the phrase ‘where history comes to life’ they usually have something less oppressive in mind than this, however, if you want to witness the results of the last century’s bloody ideological conflicts this is one of the best places to do it, and it will leave you with a renewed desire to ensure that our new century does not go the same way.
Top 2 hotels in Prague, Czech Republic
- Hotel Charles – double room from CZK 1670.2/€64,00
- Hotel Residence Green Lobster – double room from CZK 1800,70/€69,00
Photo of the Roman Colosseum, Rome, by vgm8383.