Heritage Tourism

"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 the "HisTourism - Historical & Heritage Tourism" pages devoted to present the Heritage Tourism, or Cultural Heritage Tourism: "traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present" as defined by the 1949-founded U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation. Heritage Tourism is much more thansimply  sightseeing and visiting monuments or historic venues, it means to meet the deep cultural and historical identity of any local community worldwide, its traditions, customs, people, stories, events, arts, and any cultural expressions, in other words all that authentically represent a particular place and community and make it absolutely unique!

On Historia Vivens website you will find several infos and materials useful to imagine and define possible Heritage Tourism travel ideas. In this section, especially, you will find an overview of archaeological sites, historical venues, open-air museums, research centres, as well as special research projects, themed itineraries and parks, where to experience History and Folklore first-hand, in a vivid and touchable way thanks to Living History, Heritage Interpretation, Historical Reenactment and Experimental Archaeology. These practices offer us all, regardless of our age, background, and station in life, the chance to rediscover and relive events, traditions and ways of life from the past, while enjoying live-in activities in a full-immersive and family-friendly scenery.

We wish you an interesting and pleasant surfing, and invite you to check back often for future updates.

Thank you!

about Heritage Tourism

Heritage Tourism, which includes cultural, historic, and natural resources, refers to a wide range of tourist activities and attractions, that can really introduce a quite effective upgrade from the passive learning provided by the typical, somehow mechanical, sightseeing to the direct experiencing offered by the emotional and experiential "sightdoing", a quite different way of travelling and exploring the local history and traditions through emotions rather than objects, authenticity rather than fabrication. Authenticity and uniqueness represent the main pillars of Heritage Tourism.

Image: living history event at the Castle of Montebello in Bellinzona (Switzerland). Copyright: Historia Vivens Web.

Heritage Tourism successfully harmonizes conservation and development: while promoting local communities or regions as travel destinations, it contributes both to preserve their identity, by raising the civic awareness and the sense of belonging and pride, as well as to favour their social vitality and economic growth throught the investments and returns of the tourism industry

Heritage Tourism allow us to experience the life of the past, the customs and usages of local communities 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, or which ancient traditions people of the Alpine villages would still follow in housekeeping, cattle grazing and folk celebrations and much more.

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 and Heritage Sites are locations of certain historic significance, that are open for the general public to visit and usually host Living History events or activities. There are as many historic and cultural sites throughout Europe, as many are the names used to classify them: traditional museums, 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, among others.

Image: battle reenactment at the fortress of Khotyn, Ukraine. Credits: Bethlen Gábor Hagyományőrség.

We suggest in these pages a short scheme with simple but comprehensive explanations in order not to get lost in all the variants of definitions. We do not pretend our division to be exhaustive and scientifically precise, since our only aim is just to help the readers in better understanding the main categories of the places and sites that are currently presented on our website. 

Navigation hints:

To discover historic and heritage sites in Europe, please visit the page: Heritage Sites & Living Museums

Living History & Folk open-air museums

Open-air Museums represent another category of heritage sites that combine the features of both museum and archaeological sites with displays of historical and/or ethnographic aspects and activities of a local community. Open-air museums can be based either on the remains/findings of original architectures, or also on faithful replica accurately reconstructed according to scientific rules and methods. Besides, 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: typical Ukrainian folk house at the Pirohovo Folk Museum in Kyiv, Ukraine. Copyright: 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 also 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 perform 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 research and comprehend it.

According to the Association of European Open-Air Museums (AEOM), the 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.

Navigation hints:

To discover the Living History & Archaeological museums, or the Folk Culture and Heritage museums in Europe, please visit the page: Heritage Sites & Living Museums.

Archaeological Open-Air Museums

The Archaeological open-air museum represents a non-profit permanent institution with outdoor true-to-scale architectural reconstructions primarily based on archaeological sources. This particular type of the open-air museums keeps collections of intangible heritage resources, and provides an interpretation of how people lived and acted in the past. EXARC is the European organization representing Archaeological Open-Air Museums and Experimental Archaeology. EXARC is an affiliate of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the 1946-founded organisation committed to the promotion and protection of natural and cultural heritage. 

Navigation hints:

To find more information about EXARC, please visit the dedicated page: EXARC.

discover the world of EXARC

the Europe-based organisation devoted to archaeological open-air museums, experimental archaeology, ancient technology and living interpretation.

Please click on the image to read more.

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 a full-immersive and interactive way. "Special Projects" include real-time construction/reconstruction projects of significant 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: Historia Vivens Web.

Navigation hints:

To discover special projects and theme parks in Europe, please 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, at our sole discretion, and without any compensation or obligation for their inclusion. The sites are listed by their countries of origins, that can be surfed either individually, i.e. country by country, through the drop-down menu on the left, or also grouped by some geographical macro-areas of Europe, as proposed and further detailed in the dedicated section, and including: Nordic & Baltic Countries, North Atlantic Isles, Southern, Western, Central and Eastern Europe.

Image: satellite view of Europe in winter 2001/02. Credits: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center.

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 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 certain nation, region or local 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.

HisTourism links - online resources and materials - coming soon...

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!


Credits & Navigation

Featured image: winter view of Cly castle in Saint Denis town (Aosta Valley, Italy). Copyright Historia Vivens Web.

All other images, whenever not differently credited, are copyright of the authors of this Website.



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