"HisTourism" - a different way of travelling & experiencing!
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French novelist and essayist
Welcome! Thank you for visiting our "HisTourism - Historical & Heritage Tourism" pages devoted to present the Heritage Tourism, also known as Cultural and Heritage Tourism, in Europe. Here you will find an overview to several archaeological sites, historical venues, open-air museums, research centres, as well as unique ongoing historical and archaeological projects and themed itineraries, where History and Folklore are to be experienced in a vivid and touchable way thanks to the Living History, Reenactment and Experimental Archaeology practices, which invite people from every age and background to discover events, traditions and ways of life from the past by enjoying live-in activities in a full-immersive and family-friendly scenery.
We wish You an interesting and pleasant surfing and recommend you to check back often for future updates. Thank you!
About Historical & Heritage Tourism
Heritage Tourism refers to a wide range of tourist activities and attractions, that can really bring a breathtaking change from the passive learning provided by the typical sightseeing to the direct experiencing thanks to the meaningful and experiential "sightdoing", a brand new way of travelling and exploring the history and traditions of a territory, through emotions rather than object, authenticity rather than fabrication.
Image: a living history event at the 13th century Montebello Castle, Bellinzona, Switzerland. Copyright & source: Historia Vivens Web.
Heritage Tourism allow us to experience the life of the past and the local customs through interactive and first-hand discoveries, such as how prehistoric people would create their dwellings; how farming would be at the end of the 19th century; which ancient traditions people of the Alpine villages would still follow in housekeeping, cattle grazing and folk celebrations etc.
Since we deal with the Living History and the folk traditions in Europe, we will focus on the several categories of historical touristic destinations, which offer opportunities to experience the “living” sites of different ages...
Historic & Heritage Sites
Historic Heritage Sites are locations of certain historic significance, that are open to the general public and usually host Living History events or activities. There are as many historical and heritage tourism sites throughout Europe, as many are the names used to classify them: traditional and open-air museums, castles and fortresses, historic houses and halls, battlefields, and archaeological remains of ancient cities and villages among the others. The category includes also larger territories like towns, history-themed parks, estates, courtyards and similar historic venues.
Image: Reenactment of the Battle of Khotyn 1621 AD at the 14th century Khotyn fortress, Ukraine. Credits: Bethlen Gábor Hagyományőrség.
In order not to get lost in all the variants of definitions we suggest in these pages a short scheme with simple but comprehensive explanations. We do not pretend our division to be exhaustive and scientifically precise, since our only aim is to help the users in better understanding of the main categories of the places that are currently presented on our website.
To discover historic and heritage sites in Europe visit the page: Heritage Sites & Living Museums.
Living History, Folk & Archaeological Open-Air Museums
Open-air Museums represent another category of sites combining the features of both a museum and an archaeological site with displays of historical and/or ethnographic aspects and activities of a local community. Open-air Museums can be based on the remains/finds of original architectures, or also on faithful replica accurately reconstructed according to scientific rules and methods. Open-air Museums provide the ideal stage for Living History as a powerful technique of interpretation, an interactive educational tool, and one of the most effective and inspiring means to bring the past to life!
Image: a typical Ukrainian folk house at the Pirohovo Folk Museum in Kyiv, Ukraine. Copyright & source: Historia Vivens Web
Open-air museums include the day to day furnishings and implements of daily life exhibited in the context of historic houses, barns, outbuildings, and business buildings, such as craft and trade shops, mills and factories, and places of worship. The surrounding natural setting consists usually of period appropriate plants, animals, fences and road surfaces according to the historical themes portrayed, and provides as well a particularly family-friendly and relaxing environment. The staff members in these museums are usually dressed in faithful replicas of period costumes and use replicated tools, and equipment to do the farming, and daily chores of the time portrayed. Besides the living interpreters and historical reenactors role play, or speak in first, or third-person presenting information about the past as they comprehend it, at the portrayed time.
According to the AEOM (Association of European Open Air Museums), open-air museums are scientific collections in the open air of various types of structures, which, as constructional and functional entities, illustrate settlement patterns, dwellings, economy and technology (AEOM Constitution Article 1, Association of European Open Air Museums, Tagungsberichte 1966-1972, 109).
Open-air Museums, in their turn, differ in general by the themes they present. There are two big groups of the Open-air Museums spread in Europe:
The Living History Museum is a type of open-air museum, which concept is based on Living History practices, i.e. where costumed interpreters and reenactors, within reconstructed or restored sites, portray the daily life of a certain time in history both for educational and recreational purposes, including warfare, civil and religious aspects, handicraft, life-cycle rituals and ceremonies, as well as certain historic events. The portrayed periods include Prehistory and all the main historical eras, from Ancient Civilizations to 20th century.
The Folk (Ethnographic) Museum is a type of open-air museum, based on the recreation of the daily life and folk traditions of a particular region or country, and where costumed interpreters portray traditional housekeeping, farming, labour, folk arts, life-cycle rituals and ceremonies.
A particular type of the open-air museums is the Archaeological Open-air Museum, a non-profit permanent institution with outdoor true to scale architectural reconstructions primarily based on archaeological sources. EXARC is the international organization of Archaeological Open-Air Museums and Experimental Archaeology, affiliated to ICOM, the International Council of Museums.
To discover Living History and archaeological museums in Europe, visit the page: Heritage Sites & Living Museums.
To discover Folk museums in Europe, visit the page: Heritage Sites & Living Museums.
To find more information about EXARC, visit the page: EXARC.
Special Projects and Theme Parks...
This heterogeneous category consists of all other types of history and/or folklore-themed locations, where the visitors can experience History, Archaeology and Folklore in an immersive and interactive way. "Special Projects" include real-time construction/reconstruction projects of particular scientific and cultural interest. "Theme Parks" represent reconstructed or newly built venues, usually in family-friendly natural settings, where history, traditions and culture are portrayed with leisure and educational purposes for children and adults, and sometimes also in a spiritual perspective.
Image: diorama of a Celtic village open-air museum project in Northern Italy. Copyright & source: Historia Vivens Web.
To discover special projects and theme parks in Europe, visit the page: New Projects & Parks
Heritage Tourism in Europe
The Heritage Sites and Living Museums are being published on this website for informational and educational purposes only, without any compensation or obligation for their inclusion. The sites are listed by their countries of origins which are then grouped by some proposed geographical macro-areas of Europe, as further detailed in the dedicated section and including: Nordic & Baltic Countries, North Atlantic Isles, Southern, Western, Central and Eastern Europe. Please note that all the entries relevant to any militarily occupied and/or illegally annexed territories are disabled.
Image: satellite view of snow covered Europe in winter 2001/02. Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization.
Following the proposed division, we present a selection of places and paths for anyone interested in experiencing historical tourism in Europe:
- Archaeological Open-Air Museums - a particular type of the open-air museums in Europe represented by EXARC, the international organization of Archaeological Open Air Museums and Experimental Archaeology. Information about EXARC is available on the related page: EXARC.
- Heritage Sites and Living Museums - a wide group of sites and museums representing the historical and cultural heritage of the European countries. All the sites are divided by regions and countries and available on the related page: Heritage Sites & Living Museums.
- Folk Museums - a group of the open-air museums illustrating ethnographic aspects which are characteristic of a particular nation or community of people. The museums are divided by countries and available on the same above-mentioned page: Heritage Sites & Living Museums.
- Special Projects and Theme Parks - a heterogeneous category of sites devoted either to scientific research or educational purposes through leisure are available on the dedicated page: New Projects & Theme Parks.
To browse through a selection of web-sources, links to the organizations, projects and sites related to historical and heritage tourism please visit our HisTourism Links page. Thank you!