Do you consider the history, the context, of a place when you visit it? Do you marvel at an amazing vista and think about the blood that has soaked into the ground? Are you ever impressed by a building because of it’s amazing architecture, and not the miracle that it is still standing, or what has happened inside it? In my opinion, you are missing the point of travel if you don’t consider these questions. You need to put that place in context. That makes this one of the most important of the 7 lessons learned from travel and photography.
History – Context – Is Important
Just as knowing a bit of my back story helps you understand where I am now, or understanding that everything is going wrong for your ‘horrible’ waitress today, knowing the back story of your destination will help you appreciate your experience. When putting a place, or a culture, or a people, in ‘context’, you are generally looking at its Geo-political and economic past, present, and even its future. That’s a pretty tall order! I’m not saying you need get a major in French history before travelling to Paris. I mean, unless you want to. I’m not going to tell you not to further your education!
What I am saying is: maybe read a book before you go, watch a documentary. Heck, check out a Wikipedia article. Separate fact from fiction. Discover that the field isn’t just really hilly; it was torn apart by tens of thousands of artillery shells and still bears the scars. Understand that hundreds of years of slavery has resulted in current racial tensions. Learning the history of a place shows respect to those who call that place home.
There is also something to be said for travelling to a place because of its history. I’ve often said that, if at all possible, everyone should visit battlefields and military cemeteries of past. Those who forget the past are, after all, doomed to repeat it. And this was a past we do not want to forget. It is difficult, however, to understand the scope of those battles, those wars, without seeing the rows upon rows of grave markers, the pock-marked earth, the vast stone slabs etched with too many names to count, beaches that seemed too small to land an army on.
Even this is not enough to get the full picture. But it’s a start.
What are some interesting historical stories from a place you’ve visited?
7 Lessons Learned from Travel and Photography
Check back each week to find out what else travelling has taught me!
- Break the Rules and Expectations
- Photography Can Change Lives
- History is Important
- 19th April
- 26th April
- 3rd May
- 10th May
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