Unsure where to travel in 2023? How about seeing the soon to be world’s largest sculpture, dedicated to a Native American warrior or a spectacular Roman Amphitheatre without the crowds of the Colosseum? Fancy something a little different? How about a tropical get away on Devil’s Island, the infamous former French Guinean penal colony, dubbed the ‘dry guillotine’. Discover some fantastic historic sites across the world, ranging from globally revered icons to lesser known gems. History Hit has gathered some of the best historic sites you should not miss in 2023.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, get your tickets and discover the past! Just make sure you do not forget your suncream.
1. The Crazy Horse Memorial
The Crazy Horse Memorial will be the largest sculpture in the world when it is finally complete. At over 171 metres high it is also considered the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ in progress. If the president’s heads at Mount Rushmore were all stacked on top of each other, by comparison, they’d reach just over halfway on Crazy Horse!
One of the most iconic Native American warriors, ‘Crazy Horse’ – Tasunke Witco – is famous for his role in fighting the US federal government as part of the Sioux resistance to the encroachment on the northern Great Plains by white American settlers. Crazy Horse’s fighting skills and participation in several famous battles such as the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 earned him great respect from both his enemies and his own people.
2. Warwick Castle
Built by a king, the seat of a kingmaker and vital stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, Warwick Castle has played an important role in British history. It is one of the most dramatic and complete medieval castles in the country, and has been inhabited continuously since the Middle Ages.
The seat of the Earls of Warwick until 1978, Warwick Castle then opened to the public and today offers a wide range of things to see and do. Visitors can tour the site and its grounds, learning about its history and enjoying its architecture. There are also lots of children’s activities, shows and attractions, including birds of prey.
3. Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle is a dramatic medieval stronghold and one of a ring of imposing castles built by Edward I between 1283 and 1289 during his conquest of Wales. With the rugged peaks of Snowdonia in the background, Harlech is one of four castles in the area, along with Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site.
Today, the castle is managed by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, as a tourist attraction. Visitors can enjoy walking around the castle’s historic battlements and admiring the stunning view of the hills of the village, Snowdonia mountain range, and the sea.
4. Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) is a 30 metre high statue, mounted upon an 8 metre pedestal, and of course the 700 metre high mountain of Corcovado. It was constructed between 1922 and 1931 from soapstone and reinforced concrete. Today it is a Brazilian cultural icon and global symbol of Christianity.
Christ the Redeemer was created by French sculptor Paul Landwoski and Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, working with French engineer Albert Caquot. It weighs 635 metric tons. The face of the Christ the Redeemer statue was created by Gheorghe Leonida, a Romanian sculptor living in Paris hired by Landowski.
5. Franja Partisan Hospital
Franja Partisan Hospital was a secret World War II hospital hidden within the wild and stunning landscape of the Pasica gorge, Western Slovenia. Constructed by the Slovenian resistance movement between 1943 and 1945, Franja Partisan Hospital could hold 120 patients at a time within its 13 camouflaged buildings.
Today, visitors can enjoy walking around the reconstructed buildings of the hospital. The storehouse is the only original remaining building. There is signage in English, as well as an abundance of natural beauty, including waterfalls, amongst the stunning landscape.
In Roman times, Cirencester, known as ‘Corinium Dobunnorum’, was the second-largest settlement in Britain after London. During the 6th century fortunes changed, the Saxons destroyed the town and it was renamed ‘Coryn Ceasre.’ It later became a prosperous wool town in the Medieval period.
There are a variety of places to visit and sites to enjoy within Cirencester such as the Abbey Grounds, St. Michael’s Park, Cirencester Park, the Roman Amphitheatre, New Brewery Arts, and the Corinium Museum.
7. Pula Arena
Pula Arena, also known as Pula Amphitheatre, is a dramatic historic Roman amphitheatre in Pula, Croatia. Built in the 1st century AD, Pula Arena was constructed during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian who was also responsible for founding the Colosseum.
The arena is the only remaining of its kind to have all 4 side towers completely preserved. Now restored with a capacity over 7,000 people both seated and standing, Pula Arena’s shows are far more docile in nature than their ancient predecessors.
8. Devil’s Island
Devil’s Island penal colony in French Guiana was home, at one time or another, to 80,000 of France’s worst criminals, the vast majority of whom never returned home. Made famous in Henri Charrière’s ‘Papillon’, prisoners endured a living death dubbed the ‘dry guillotine’.
Today, tours to the islands are available by boat from Kourou on the mainland although Devil’s Island remains closed to the public (but visible from the boats). The prison buildings on the other islands have been converted into museums. Since these tourism facilities have been added, the islands now receive more than 50,000 tourists each year.
9. Pisa Cathedral Complex
The Pisa Cathedral Complex, known simply as Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo), houses one of the world’s most celebrated ecclesiastical landscapes. In addition to the cathedral itself, the Pisa Cathedral Complex includes a church, a baptistery, a cemetery and one very famous campanile or bell tower – better known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The exterior is particularly famous, with exquisite marble Islamic-style arches being so well-worked that they almost look like embroidery. The famous bronze doors were made by Florentine artists in the 17th century after the wooden doors were destroyed by fire in 1595.
10. York City Walls
The York City Walls are England’s most complete set of city walls and are an integral part of York’s history. With a wealth of interesting features, most notably the four main ornate stone gateways known as ‘bars’, these walls provide a scenic route around the city steeped in history.
Today, visitors can walk along the York City Walls, which run for some 2.5 miles and enclose the historic part of the city. The main gates into the city are Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar, all mostly constructed in the 14th century with later additions.