It's all in the past: Visiting Historic Towns and Cities

Written by  Lucinda Day

We’re all unashamedly guilty of it, and have more often than not been subjected to it. No sooner have we arrived back from that all important trip, and we’re instinctively jumping on that unfortunate friend (the one that is clearly in a rush) to ask if they ‘would like to look at the photos?’

While ‘erm in all honesty, no thanks’ is not a response that we are likely to hear, it is perhaps the one that we would most want to say. And it is certainly not because the aesthetics aren’t quite pleasing enough. No, it is the never ending historical jargon which is permanently attached to every photo that really kills us spectators, in a slow and painful manner. History, it seems, is everywhere. Right behind you there in that temple, cementing those steps you’re standing on, or in the eyes of that statue your boyfriend (not so) comically poses by. Wonderfully, we all go a little bit mad with the photos, and well history, when we hit historical towns and cities; this is why I propose you should be the one going, and not the one left to look at the photos.

First things first; historical towns and cities are great places to visit even when you’re not some kind of history buff. This is because they’re likely to be a little bit gorgeous. The historical city of Dubrovnik, a personal favorite of mine, was famously described by Bernard Shaw as ‘heaven on earth’ for a reason. The walled old town, which is defined by its baroque streets and bustling eateries, overlooks the sparkling and seductive Adriatic Sea, and provides happy snappers with the most stunning of views to contemplate. Dubrovnik developed at an extraordinary rate in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, due to the wealth it acquired from its maritime trade. Its richness transcended its trade though; it became the home of stunning architecture and a vibrant and civilized culture, ensuring it rivaled the likes of Venice culturally. While Dubrovnik is just one beautiful example, historical towns and cities generally make good eye candy, precisely because history has located them as, or constructed them into, particularly special kinds of places.

The locations that stick rather stubbornly in the history books rarely always do so for their looks alone. Centuries of artistic, cultural, and physical, revolution have not only defined our world’s historical towns and cities, but ensured us culture vultures endlessly flock, year upon year without fail. While humankind is seemingly obsessed with other people and their stories, it seems that this is no more so the case than with those peoples and stories of the past.

While intriguing streets, artwork and architecture surround you, providing much needed clues about what went before, historical towns and cities usually have an overspill of museums and tour options to both boost your knowledge and keep you entertained. While organized tours may seem to take away some of the spontaneity of your visit, they can really enhance your historical, and cultural understanding of the place you’re visiting. On a recent trip to Sarajevo I was mesmerized by the number of shell holes in the roads and pavement, which provided stark, physical reminders of the recent Yugoslav war. It was only, however, when I signed up to the famous War Tour that I found out why some, and not others, were painted bright red, or how many shells shocked the locals every single day during the war (facts I will of course leave you to discover for yourself).

While a tour guide or museum can tell you about the people that the history books left out, like the West Berliner’s who smuggled Beatle’s records to those the other side of the wall; this needn’t be the only reason to visit a historical town or city. Behind every good story, is usually a pretty good ale house, or so I’m told. Once you’re done with the past, nothing beats sitting back and watching your own present effortlessly floating by, from your distinct spot in one of the most charismatic and historical cities on Earth.

Even more Historic Towns and Cities

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