Jun 08 2008

10 Great Historical Experiences

10 Great Hostorical Experiences

History isn’t only about reading history books or strolling through museums, separated from the exhibitions by a sheet of glass. These activities will get you up close and personal with remnants of the past.

Inca Trail
A great way to immerse yourself in South American history is to walk the Inca Trail in Peru. This trek follows the path of one of the ancient Inca highways which existed before Spanish explorers reached the continent. Now people take two- or four-day hikes up to Machu Picchu, a World Heritage site once called ”the lost city of the Incas”, which remained undiscovered by the Spanish. Here you can see the city’s picturesque ruins and the beautiful views over the valley below.

The Pyramids of Giza
At over 4500 years old they’re the last survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. That’s a lot of history, and luckily, these great monuments live up to their star billing. Now on the western edge of ever-growing Cairo, the former pharaonic tombs dominate the landscape, still breathtakingly huge. The three major pyramids are those of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, but there are also smaller ones scattered around the vicinity. As an added bonus, the Sphinx sits nearby, looking mysterious and evocative. An attractive way to see the area is on horseback at sunset, with a steed hired from nearby stables.

Siege of Malbork Castle
There were few scarier fighters in the Middle Ages than the Teutonic Knights, legendary warrior monks who carved out an empire along the Baltic Sea. They left behind their magnificent headquarters, the vast red-brick castle of Marienburg, now known as Malbork Castle after the Polish town it overlooks. Not only can you tour through the intact remains of one of largest castles in the world, but in July you can experience the annual recreation of the 15th century siege of the fortress by a Polish army. It’s a noisy night-time spectacular full of costumed soldiers, horses, light effects, fireworks and medieval weaponry.

The Forbidden City
The name says it all: in the days when the Emperor of China was all-powerful, only subjects who had his permission could enter this palace complex in the centre of Beijing. Behind its walls, the rectangular area of 720,000 square metres operated like a small city. The emperor was deposed in 1912, and evicted from the palace in 1924, when the Palace Museum was established to hold and exhibit the Forbidden City’s treasures. Within its walls are extensive displays of beautiful ceramics, paintings, clothing, furniture, and precious items made from gold, silver and jade. On a quirkier note, there’s an enormous collection of 18th and 19th century clocks and watches. www.dpm.org.cn

United States Space and Rocket Centre
One of the greatest events of 20th century history was the moon landing in 1969, the first time humans had ever set foot on another world. At the US Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Indiana, you can relive the excitement and wonder of the space race, checking out the various exhibits of space gear, including a gigantic model of the Saturn V rocket that lifted the astronauts into the sky. Better still, there are loads of hands-on attractions including a G-force accelerator, a space shot simulator and a Mars climbing wall that approximates the surface of the red planet.

Easter Island
You wouldn’t think that an island first settled by humans only 1500 years ago would make this list; but Easter Island is special. Everyone has seen images of its famous statues, featuring long, sombre faces with elongated earlobes and noses. But what makes the place really exciting is the air of mystery that hangs over it. The turbulent events of its short history have left this rocky Pacific outcrop with a lot of gaps in its back story, leading to endless speculation about fascinating questions: for example, how did the islanders actually move the huge statues about the place?

Imagine an ancient city entirely carved out of stone, hidden away from the world at the end of a long narrow canyon. It’s like something out of an Indiana Jones movie — and in fact, Petra appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Around the 6th century BC, a tribe of Arabs known as Nabateans settled the site, and carved amazing, elegant buildings out of its rocky hills. Nowadays visitors to the archaeological site in Jordan marvel at Petra’s prominent Treasury building, and if energetic, climb to the highest monuments such as the aptly-named High Place, an ancient site of worship.

Taj Mahal
Most people would hope they’d be remembered when they’ve departed this world, with maybe a smile or a teary eye. But Mumtaz Mahal, the late wife of the Indian emperor Shah Jehan, received something far more spectacular: the Taj Mahal, said by many to be the world’s most beautiful building. Built in her memory, the white mausoleum was completed in 1648. Not only is the main building impressive, but it’s surrounded by attractive gardens and other historic structures. The Taj is a monument to die for. www.asi.nic.in

The Parthenon
Before the Roman Empire conquered all the territories around the Mediterranean, ancient Greece was the centre of the civilised world. One of the most beautiful symbols of its cultural supremacy was the Parthenon, a temple built on a hilltop of Athens and completed in 438 BC. Although the building later became a church, then a mosque, and was heavily damaged during a battle in 1687, it’s survived to this day as a symbol of the city’s glory days. Every year, visitors from around the world soak up its ancient vibes. odysseus.culture.gr

York museums
Delving into history often involves visiting a museum. In the British city of York, however, the visitor can choose from a range of museums, according to taste and mood. To start, York Castle Museum showcases objects from everyday life, and includes an recreation of an entire Victorian-era street. The Yorkshire Museum specialises in local archaeology, while the National Railway Museum is the largest of its type in the world. The star museum in the city, however, must be the Jorvik Viking Centre, which tells the story of York’s past life as a Viking settlement.

[via: http://things.ninemsn.com.au]

2 responses so far

2 Comments to “10 Great Historical Experiences”

  1. Marlonon 16 Jul 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I have always wanted to go to Petra. This is definitely something on my list of things to experience, and hope to be able to do one day.

  2. Jonnoon 28 Jul 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for this article. There are lots of cool historical things there that i need to try one day…just need the time and money.