Stand on the spot where King Harold Godwinson was supposedly shot in the eye with an arrow or explore the dark and complex history of the witch trials of 17th-century Salem, with these top-rated destinations for history according to global travellers.*
The American Civil War: Gettysburg, USA
See the battleground on which the Civil War played out
Considered the most important battle of the American Civil War, Gettysburg was also the bloodiest. Three days of conflict in this small town resulted in approximately 51,000 casualties and millions of visitors visit every year, trying to get real sense of what happened here in 1863.
You can walk the battlefield yourself, stand atop Cemetery Hill where the ‘Gettysburg Address’ was delivered, and vividly imagine the two sides advancing at each other for the first time.
The verandah at Keystone Inn
Only a few minutes’ drive from Gettysburg Battlefield, Keystone Inn is a pretty Pennsylvanian house with groomed gardens and a verandah complete with rocking chairs.
The Reformation: Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany
A bird's eye view of the Schlosskirche in Lutherstadt
This UNESCO German town is like an open-air museum. It was named after the revolutionary founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther. The most significant, historic site is probably the Schlosskirche (aka the Castle Church), to whose original wooden toors Luther nailed his famous Theses in 1517 and triggered the Reformation.
Then there’s the oldest building in Wittenburg, the Church of St. Mary, where Luther frequently preached. And the colourful houses of cobbled Marktplatz, Wittenberg’s oldest market square, with a handsome 16th-century town hall and bronze statues of Luther.
The hotel Alte Canzley, directly opposite the Schlosskirche
Hotel Alte Canzley is directly opposite the Schlosskirche, with its round, 88-metres’ tall, neo-Gothic spire towering overhead.
The Battle of Waterloo: Waterloo, Belgium
The battle that brought Napoleon's army to its knees, Waterloo
Just over 200 years ago, Napoleon surrendered after his French army met the British and Prussian alliance led by the Duke of Wellington near Brussels in Belgium.
Towards the end of the battle, the famous British stiff upper lip was exemplified in an exchange between the Earl of Uxbridge and Wellington; riding next to Wellington, Uxbridge exclaimed ‘By God, Sir, I’ve lost my leg.’ To which Wellington replied simply ‘By God, Sir, so you have.’
The attractive grounds of B&B L'Orangerie
After a day spent absorbing history on the battle site, come home and relax at the B&B L'Orangerie, with its manicured Belgian gardens, outdoor pool, and terrace.
The Battle of Hastings: Battle, England
Historical ruins in the town of Battle, England
Just off the south coast of England, the small civil parish of Battle became the site of the decisive Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was a clash between the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson and the Duke of Normandy, later William the Conqueror.
Having fought a battle two days earlier and then marched through England to fight William, it’s little wonder Harold lost (allegedly killed by an arrow shot through his eye). The main sights are the new special exhibition, rooftop views out over the town, the sculpture trail, the battlefield itself and the town’s abbey ruins.
Experience English country house living at Powdermills Hotel
With a vast, wisteria-clad facade, peacocks in the garden, shelves of antique books, old paintings, mahogany four-poster beds, and an outdoor swimming pool, Powdermills Country House Hotel is an exquisite English country house accommodation.
The Salem Witch Trials: Salem, USA
Visit Salem and learn the dark history of the 1693 Witch Trials
Ever since Salem’s infamous witch trials of 1692, when several locals were accused of practising witchcraft and hanged, the city has attracted tourists gripped by its dark history. It inspired playwright Arthur Miller to pen his seminal play, The Crucible; an extraordinary exploration of human nature based on the Salem trials.
Landmarks include the Witch House (the home of a judge in the 1692 proceedings) and museums containing artifacts from the trial. During October, the annual month-long Halloween party called ‘Haunted Happenings’ embraces Salem’s spooky historical heritage.
Boutique luxury at The Merchant, Salem
A restored, historic building in central Salem, The Merchant is a luxurious, boutique hotel whose decor artfully combines the old with the new; wood panelling painted bright contrasting colours like teal blue and burnt sienna, fireplaces, and velvet, vintage furniture.
**The data analysts at Booking.com looked at endorsements for ‘history’ by Booking.com customers. They then found the destinations that were most highly-rated for this endorsement.