People who both love to travel and study history can bring history back to life by visiting where important historical battles took place. Traveling to historical battlegrounds can be especially rewarding when you have a knowledgeable and engaging guide. If you’re a history buff who loves to travel, here are some of the top historic battlegrounds to visit in Europe.
Waterloo is probably the most important historical battlefield you’ll want to visit. It was here, just south of modern-day Brussels, Belgium, on June 18, 1815 that Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the Duke of Wellington, changing the course of European history.
At the Waterloo battlefield, you can hear not only about what took place, you can also learn about the individual army maneuvers. You may even run into some costumed historical characters from the past.
Our closest long-term auto rental location is nearby at the Brussels Airport.
Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest
The Battle of the Bulge, which was the bloodiest and largest battle fought by Americans during World War II, took place in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. It was here on December 16, 1944 that the last major German battle occurred near the end of World War II.
One of the highlights you won’t want to miss is the Henri-Chapelle American War Cemetery, where 7,992 Americans are buried on the Western Front. Other sites include those such as the Historical Museum, the Truschbaum Museum, and the Historical Center.
Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches
You’ll definitely want to visit the Normandy D-Day landing beaches as this site was where the largest land, air, and sea invasion in all of history occurred. It was here, during Operation Overlord, that the Allies invaded Western Europe during World War II on June 6, 1944. Although the Allies intended to surprised Germany, the Germans were prepared to fight. This famous battle heralded the end of the war.
Normandy has warm summers and mild winters, with rain often in the forecast throughout the year. However, there’s more rain in winter than in the summer. You can easily reach Normandy, traveling by car, from Paris. We have locations at both Orly Airport and Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The battle of Hastings, fought on October 14, 1066, marked a major turning point in the history of England, as it was the last time in which England was invaded successfully. The forces of William the Conqueror were defeated, which significantly affected the language of Britain, as it resulted in many new words being added to the English language.
As you explore the Hastings battleground, you can just imagine what it was like on that day when England’s history was changed. The Anglo-Saxons were stationed on the ridge, which now lies underneath the Abbey Buildings, as the Norman invaders attacked them. It’s hard to envision that this was once a bloody battlefield because today, you can hear birds sweetly sing and enjoy the beautiful wildflowers.
At the Abbey Ruins, you can visit the famous Abbey which belonged to William the Conqueror. It’s also the site where King Harold died. Other attractions include the Walled Garden, Ice House and Dairy, and the Gateway Museum.
Considerations and Warnings
Be sure you’re equipped with good maps that include what occurred at battlefields, as well as why the battles took place. A good map source is the National Map Centre in London.
Visiting European historical battlefields can be somewhat different from visiting American battlegrounds. For example, rather than having sites that have park rangers and reception centers, many of the battlegrounds are run by local history buffs during their spare time.
One of the best ways to take historical tours of battlegrounds is by renting a car. Auto France can help make your vacation a trip of a lifetime. Specializing in long-term European car rentals, we can provide you with just the right rental car, whether you’re a student who’s studying abroad or a retiree taking a cross-continental trip.
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