When students are studying History, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine that the facts they learn in their textbooks actually happened. Nothing brings the topic more alive than a visit to the places where the action took place. Here is a pick of some of the best destinations for History trips.
France and Belgium: Ypres and the Somme
Hop over the Channel to the famous battlegrounds of World War I to give students a taste of what life was like for soldiers in this terrible war. Students can get an idea of the difficulties soldiers faced in Yorkshire Trench, a reconstructed version of soldiers’ working and living conditions. Several memorial museums display artefacts and life size models of life in the trenches. Memorials and cemeteries for all the different nationalities involved can also be visited, helping students to appreciate the cost for both sides. This is most certainly a trip students and teachers will never forget.
With a history that goes back to the 10th century, Krakow and its beautiful buildings have been recognised by UNESCO as one of the world’s twelve most historic sites. The Old Town Square is great for historic attractions and shopping. Schindler’s Factory, made famous by the Steven Spielberg film, has been turned into a well-documented museum about the Jewish ghetto and Schindler’s quest to save as many Jews as he could from Nazi persecution. Auschwitz and Birkenau are a short coach ride away and give students an alarming, yet unforgettable understanding of the realities of World War II concentration camps.
Students studying Spanish history, particularly that of the Reconquista and the Middle Ages, will find this trip fascinating. Visiting several towns in the region, they can discover Spain’s rich history of religion and explorers. Cordoba is the place from which Christopher Colombus left on his voyage to discover the Americas, as well as being an important site for the Spanish Inquisition. It is also home to a magnificent cathedral, built on the site of what used to be the largest mosque in the world. Granada shows the contrast between modern Spain and its Moorish past, some of which was spared from the Reconquista. This is truly a unique and inspiring trip.
Russia: St Petersburg
St Petersburg is the perfect place for students to experience Russia in all its grandeur. From the tsars to the great communist leaders of the twentieth century, the city oozes power and history from its beautiful buildings and informative museums. Students can experience the Winter Palace, home of the tsars until their downfall in 1917 and the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, built where Alexander II was assassinated. The Aurora is said to be the ship which signalled the start of the October Revolution, one of the major events in Russian history which students can get to grips with by exploring this preserved location. Finally, students can compare Russia’s regimes in the Cathedral Fortress of Peter and Paul, which served as a prison for the Bolsheviks.
Monica Haubert was a school teacher for many years, before switching careers to the travel industry. She now specialises in youth travel and advises schools on the benefits of educational trips.