Virginia is one of the oldest states in the United States and so has seen some of the most important historical events of any state. For many years during the early history of the US, it was one of the largest states. In the Confederacy, it was the largest and most powerful state and was home to the breakaway capital and the scene of many of the largest battles.
Virginia has a historical hotspot known as the "Historic Triangle." The main attractions include Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. If you are ever passing through this region be sure to check them out! And while you're there, check out Virginia's impressive Virginia Beach too.
- Location: Virginia Peninsula In The Chesapeake Bay
Fun Fact: Virginia Is Technically A Commonwealth And Not A State
Most of us just have probably seen the Disney movie Pocahontas and at one time or another have had songs like "Can You Paint With All The Colors Of The Wind?" stuck in our heads. But this story is (very) loosely based on the real historical characters of Pocahontas and John Smith at the settlement of Jamestown.
Jamestown is old, it was first founded in 1607 and it had a very very troubled beginning with repeated conflict and besieges by the local Indians. These caused starvation and even cannibalism inside the settlement at the most extreme times. In the first years, 1609-1610 around 80% of the settlers died.
- General Admission Cost: $25
- Children Under 15 Cost: Free
- Opening Hours (Entrance Gate): 8.30-4.30
Whole Historic Triangle
- Admission Fee (Adult Over 16): $106.40 (Included: Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown Battlefield, Jamestown Settlement, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg)
- Youth Fee (Aged 6-15): $46.95
- Kids (Aged Under 5): $ Free
- Ticket Duration: 7 Days
The real-life John Smith lived 1580-1631 and lived an adventurous life is truly awe-inspiring. He was knighted by the Prince of Transylvania (prince of the Vampire-inspired Transylvania) for winning three single combat duels, he was captured in Tartar Crimea and sold into slavery in Constantinople. There he was given as a gift to a rich man's mistress who then fell in love with him, he managed to escape to England (a very interesting escape too). He then became the leader of the Jamestown Colony where he was saved from execution by Pocahontas. There is just so much more to his life story!
- Tip: Read Up About John Smith; A Larger Than Life Figure - Captain, Explorer, Slave, Soldier, Lover, Writer, Survivor
Today there is the historical and archeological site of Jamestown and a fully built replica of the settlement just off to the side. Here you can see workers at the museum in traditional dress bring the settlement to life explaining the history to you.
- Record: First Successful Colony In Virginia
- First Capital: Capital To 1699
Additionally, at Jamestown, you can find three full-sized replicas of the tiny ships that brought the first settlers to Jamestown. These are Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. You will be astonished at just how small these ships are that brought the settlers all across the Atlantic. Nothing like the big galley ships seen in the movies during this period.
Williamsburg was founded back in 1632 and became the capital of Virginia in 1699. The capital was later moved in 1780 to the more secure site of Richmond during the American War Of Independence.
- Size: 173 acres or 70 ha.
- Architectural Style: Georgian
- Capital Of Virginia: Capital Of Virginia After Jamestown And Before Richmond
Today Colonial Williamsburg is a large living museum and an absolute must-see for anyone visiting the area. Here you can see and learn about the American colonial history from around the time of the War Of Independence. The site has been significantly restored and reconstructed and is truly a time warp back into the past.
Many students of history will be familiar with the World War Two USA aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown that fought in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. Well, it gets its name from this site. This historic site also appeared briefly at the end of the 2000 movie The Patriot.
- Adult: $15 (As Part Of The Colonial National Historical Park)
- Children: $ Free (15 And Under)
- Opening Hours: 9.00-5.00
This was the side of one of the last major battles of the American War of Independence where the colonial army penned up the British Army trapping them in Yorktown. The French Navy blockaded them by sea completing the trap. Here they forced the surrender of the British Army effectively ending the war in 1781 with the surrender of British General Charles Earl Cornwallis.
Fun Fact: The British Went On To Get Revenge On The French Fleet The Following Year At The Battle of the Saintes
Today Yorktown is a major attraction for those interested in the history of the United States. The site has two large visitor centers, battlefield drives and the historic area of the downtown has many pre-Revolutionary buildings (fortunately they weren't all destroyed during the war).
The Colonial Parkway was built to connect these sites together and in such a way as to shield the road from commercial development. The idea is that people do not get distracted as they travel from site to site and so they can immerse themselves in a time gone by. No commercial vehicles are permitted to use this road.
In summary, the Historic Triangle is a must-see and a priceless gem in America's founding history.