Calling all history buffs! Has it been your dream to tour the world in search of rediscovering the past or relearning history? Have you always wanted to walk in the footsteps of brave soldiers or stand in centuries-old fortresses? You're in luck because there are locations all over the world where you can do just that.
Whether you're a fan of American colonial history or curious to know more about the history behind Nazi Germany, monuments, memorials, and war ruins have been placed and left standing in countries like France, Poland, England, and America so that war tourists like you have an opportunity to visit and honor the past. Here are our 10 most important places that every war tourist must visit!
10 Mount Vernon, Virginia
For all you United States history lovers, a visit to Mount Vernon, Virginia is the perfect place to go if you're in search for a trip back to re-discover the founding of America. Situated just near the Potomac River, Mount Vernon was the home of George Washington until his death in 1799.
In 2006, Mount Vernon opened a museum on the 500-acre estate that features galleries and theaters to tell George Washington's life story. If you love biking, many tourists take the scenic route while on their way to the estate so that they can enjoy the Virginian landscape.
9 Normandy, France
On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces executed Operation Overlord, a land, sea, and air military strike against Nazi presence in France during World War II. This event is known historically as D-Day and took place on the beaches of Normandy, France.
For many war tourists, this location is at the top of their lists. All along the coast of Normandy, you can find memorial sites, statues, and sculptures that have been made to honor the lives lost in the battle that day. Many people from France, England, and the US come to this location to honor their troops. The best time to visit would be around May - June, on D-Day's anniversary.
8 Oświęcim, Poland
Visiting Oświęcim in southern Poland is, for many historians, a sad but necessary trip to take. The former Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz, that was once located in the town has now been turned into a memorial and museum to honor the victims that lost their lives in camp during World War II.
War tourists visit this site to pay their respects to the victims. The decision to turn the building in a memorial museum was established as the act of Sejm in 1947 and states that it is to be "kept forever as a monument." If you're looking for a real way to learn about history, visiting this memorial site will help.
7 Vel D’Hiv Monument, France
In July 1942, Nazis seized Paris and mass-arrested all Jewish people living in the city. Under Nazi direction and led by French police, this event was known as Operation Spring Breeze and was meant to eradicate the Jewish faith from France. The Vel D’Hiv Monument today pays tribute to the victims of the raid and can be seen in Paris.
Polish sculptors and architects worked to create the monument. The monument was made to represent and honor the victims who were arrested from their homes. The statues include a depiction of women, a pregnant woman, and a sick man. For anyone looking to honor those lost, this is a beautiful monument to visit.
6 Yorktown, VA
If you're searching for a way to re-learn about American history, Virginia is the perfect place to go. Yorktown was established in 1691 as a place for Virginia to regulate trade and collect imports and exports from the colonies to Britain. It was an important vantage point for colonial America.
During the American Revolution in 1781, a British attack threatened both American and French forces in the area, but America emerged from the fight with a victory. This event is known as The Battle of Yorktown and marked a turning point for America's victory in the war. Though much of the town as it was first established was destroyed during battle, while walking the streets today, you'll be able to reimagine colonial America as it was before.
5 Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA
Known to many as "the birthplace of America," Independence Hall is the building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were drawn up and signed by the Founding Fathers. For many American historians, this is a must-see historical site.
From learning about the inspiration behind the architecture to the stories about court hearings that took place in the building, Independence Hall has a lot to offer when it comes to revisiting the past. It's located on the corner of Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th streets, and whether you're booking a tour or strolling through the hall, you're guaranteed to learn firsthand about America's founding.
4 Dunkirk, France
In June of 1940, the rescue of over 330,000 British soldiers trapped in Dunkirk, France due to a Nazi surrounding, was carried out. This operation was known as Operation Dynamo and was a small but deeply meaningful Allied victory, especially for England.
In Dunkirk, France, you'll be able to take a tour around the city to re-trace former soldier's footsteps, as well as see where the 2017 film Dunkirk was shot. From a fort that was built in memoriam of the soldiers who weren't able to make it out of the city to the Dunkirk war museum, this is a great spot to learn more about war history in France and England. At low tide near the beaches, you'll be able to see shipwrecks that still remain from World War II as a reminder of what was gained but also lost.
3 Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington DC
For another walk through American history, but at a more recent time, war tourists can visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D. C. Located on the National Mall just near the Constitution Gardens, this memorial pays tribute to the United States Armed Forces who lost their lives or were missing in action during the Vietnam War.
The memorial is a popular tourist attraction for many visitors that come to Washington D.C. but is also a deeply solemn place for Americans. The memorial is free to see and open to the public 24 hours a day. If you ever find yourself at this location, you'll often see family members and close friends of former soldiers honoring their loved ones.
2 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
On December 7, 1941, Japan dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, prompting the US to join the Allies in World War II as a response. Hawaii suffered many casualties as a result of this surprise attack, and the lives of soldiers to nurses to families living on the island were lost. Today, Pearl Harbor stands as a memorial to honor them.
Though Hawaii is made up of many islands, war tourists and visitors alike can take boat trips to Pearl Harbor from any of the islands to learn more about the history and to pay respects. From group tours to seeing battleships first hand, this site is an important one to see for anyone interested in American history.
1 Dover Castle, Dover, England
As early as the 1180s, Dover Castle in Dover has served as a fortress and force of protection for England. Defending its country against foreign invaders, this castle was built by King Henry II and has been adapted with new walls, defenses, and weapon storages throughout the Middle Ages and through both World Wars.
Today, Dover Castle still stands and can be visited in England for anyone curious about medieval history. From exploring its underground tunnels to escape rooms made to mirror the insides of the castle, you can learn about England's rich history while still enjoying your time as a tourist in Dover.