These 7 travel bucket lists should be the next destinations for anyone who likes history and adventure. Picking the best places to visit during your vacation can be challenging sometimes. So much history and so little time to see everything your mind craves for.
Whether you are looking through a brochure or browsing the internet it will always be a tough choice for some people. So I am presenting you some tourist sites with dark history you might or might not know before now.
Travel Destinations With A Dark Past
1. Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Auschwitz concentration camp is located in southern Poland. A great addition to your travel bucket list in case you have run out of ideas of places to go. A record 2.15 million people visited the camp in 2018.
It was originally a barracks for the Polish army before Germany invaded and occupied Poland during the second world war. In May 1940, it was converted to a prison. Most of the first prisoners were Polish and Soviets. They were regarded as political prisoners.
When compared to the other Nazi camps, Auschwitz was the largest with three main camps; a prison camp, an extermination camp, and a slave-labor camp. It was probably the most notorious. As the name implies the Death camps were mainly for killing and most of its victims were the Jews and other people who were deemed undesirables.
Auschwitz is always remembered in the “Holocaust” as almost one million Jews died here. About 1.1 million people died out of the 1.3 million people that arrived in these camps. Giant gas chambers were built and used to murder hundreds of thousands of people. The bodies were burned using the crematoria.
Furthermore, the gas chambers were functional until November 1944. By January 1945 as the coalition was having the upper hand during the war, the Soviets army entered Krakow which made Auschwitz to be abandoned.
The prisoners who were remaining were ordered to march to the Polish towns of Gliwice or Wodzisław, some 30 miles away by the German soldiers. An estimate of about 60,000 prisoners was involved in what is known as the Auschwitz death marches with countless numbers dying on the way.
2. The Memorial Hall to the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre
This hall was built to remember the victims of the war crimes committed in this region by Japanese soldiers in December 1937 just before the second world war.
The hall was constructed in 1985. It was later extended in 1995 by the Chinese local government of the Region. It’s located in Jiangdongmen and covers 28,000 square meters. It is one of the execution sites and mass burial places popularly known as the Mass Grave of 10,000 Corpses.
Moreover, the victims of about 300,000 were both civilians and unarmed Chinese soldiers. Common civilians were beheaded. Some were buried alive, while others were burnt. Women and children were not spared. More than 20,000 women were reportedly raped and some of them later killed.
Furthermore, the halls portray the atrocities that were committed by use of architecture, sculptures, video illustrations with historical records and objects. Two marble walls in the Hall are engraved with the names of the 300,000 Victims and a monument in the yard had the dates of the event also engraved on it, ‘1937.12.13 – 1938.1’ it showed. This Hall sure reminds us of the need for peace in human society. Be sure to include it on your travel bucket list.
3. The Colosseum or Coliseum
Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an oval-shaped amphitheater in the center of Rome, Italy. The Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty presented it as a gift to the Roman people. It was commissioned around A.D. 70-72.
At the time of its completion, it was the biggest theatre in the world. Holds around 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. Built with the finest material of the era. The theatre was absolutely well ahead of its time.
Generally used to host a variety of events by the Elites and the State. One of its dark stories seems popular; “The Gladiator” games where men fight to the death for sports, some forced, others for glory. Fight against wild animals, and condemned criminals or even slaves and others who were considered undesirables was staged here.
In addition to that, another of its dark stories was its use for the martyrdom of large numbers of believers during the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Those who refused to renounce their faith or join in the state-approved religion would be exposed in the arena to a variety of wild and ferocious animals such as leopards, boars, lions. They will be asked to fight for their survival. If the Colosseum or Coliseum is not yet part of your travel bucket list, then you are definitely missing out.
4. Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima
Peace memorial park is built for and dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack. And also to the memories of the victims of the bomb explosion.
Being one of the most prominent features of the city, it is located in downtown Hiroshima, west of the Kamiyachō and Hatchōbori government and business districts. This large park covers 120,000 square meters.
Three Notably features of the park
(i). Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims, which is also known as the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima. The cenotaph consists of an arch that acts as the roof and a stone chest beneath.
Inside the chest is a record of the names of all the victims of the atomic bombing. The Cenotaph contains the words “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil”.
(ii). Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum preserves and presents an accurate picture of the atomic attack, by recording the tragic and terrible effects of the bomb and the resultant radiation. It opened in 1950. The main building tells the story of what happened on August 6, 1945, through scientific explanations and exhibits of items belonging to the victims.
(iii). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the A-Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings to remain standing after the bomb explosion and still stands today. The A-Bomb Dome is a picture of Hiroshima’s unique past.
5. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is also known as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. It is both a memorial and museum located in New York City. It was built to remember the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, resulting in the death of 2,977 people. And the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which had killed six casualties.
Furthermore, the 9/11 Memorial Museum is regarded as America’s principal institution for examining what happened on September 11, 2001. Its aim is to document the impacts and explore the continuing effect of the 9/11 attacks.
A dedication ceremony remembering the ten years anniversary of the attacks was held at the memorial on September 11, 2011. The museum opened its doors to the public on May 21, while the museum was dedicated on May 15, 2014, with speeches from Michael Bloomberg and the then President of America, Barack Obama.
Also, the memorial is made up of two reflecting pools set in the footprints of the “Twin Towers”. The names of all the victims are inscribed in bronze around the pools.
6. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Another travel bucket list with a dark past is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. It is sited in the capital of Cambodia, in the city of Phnom Penh. It symbolizes the Cambodian genocide. This prison site was a former secondary school. “Tuol Svay Prey High School” is on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge regime had just risen to power in 1975. The high school was then renamed S-21.
Moreover, It was then turned into a torture, interrogation, and execution center in 1976. Although the real number is unknown, an estimate of 20,000 people was imprisoned at Tuol Sleng from 1976 to 1979. Out of this amount, only seven were said to have survived.
Furthermore, the S-21 Prison is popularly known as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. The interrogation rooms had only a school desk and chair directly opposite a steel bed frame with shackles at each end. Bloated, decomposing bodies chained to bed frames with pools of wet blood underneath was the sight the first discoverers of S-21 met in January of 1979.
Also, the records of carefully taken photographs of the majority of the inmates and photographic archives were kept. These almost 6,000 S-21 pictures that have been recovered tells a story of shock, confusion, resignation, defiance, and horror. Although the most gruesome images discovered were those of the mass graves taken by the Khmer Rouge at S-21.
7. Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was among the sites of the Mumbai attacks in 2008. The hotel which is a symbol of the prosperity, wealth, and progress of the Indian people was targeted in the 2008 terror attacks. Approximately 31 people were killed in an eventful four-day siege. About 450 guests were staying in the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel at the time of the seizure.
The attack which shocked the world was widely condemned by political leaders worldwide. The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel reopened fully on 15 August 2010, which is India’s Independence Day showing the solidarity of its people.
Furthermore, the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel remains the pride and symbol of the strength of India’s people and resolve. Visitors from all over the world make it part of their travel bucket list.
Nanna Daniels is a legal practitioner and writer. His practice as a lawyer and a writer is as diverse as his client base. His client ranges from government bodies to banks, private companies in real estate, energy companies, telecommunications to small businesses, families, and individuals.
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