Five places from the past that have shaped our present

Last updated: Jan 30th, 2019

Paula Kitching 051We asked our History Tours Development Manager and freelance historian, Paula Kitching, to put together a list of the top ‘five places from the past that have shaped our present’.

With so many places of importance and landmarks to choose from, it wasn’t a simple task! Spanning Europe and the USA, Paula’s picked out the five most influential places that have impacted how we live our lives today across the world.

Normandy Beaches, France

The scene of the most ambitious landings ever carried out, brutal fighting played out on the Normandy beaches as the Allied Forces attempted to retake France from the Nazis and liberate Europe.

Over 425,000 men lost their lives delivering an attack that would put the Nazis on the back foot. 6th June 1944, known as D-Day, would help deliver a free Europe.

Normandy beach

Wittenberg, Germany

On 31st October 1517 German preacher Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church, when he nailed his 95 Thesis to the Castle Church. The Reformation was one of the most turbulent, bloody and important periods of European history. The repercussions are still felt today with Christian communities mainly divided on Catholic and Protestant lines.


Lijssenthoek CWGC Cemetery, Belgium

With 11,954 burials, the cemetery is the second largest in the Ypes Salient. It stands on the site of a former Casualty Clearing Station where many important medical treatments were carried out. The site is a record of the changes in medical treatments to the injured men of the First World War, with doctors attempting more advanced ways of saving lives and limbs as the war went on.


The International Criminal Court, The Hague, The Netherlands

The International Criminal Court investigates cases of genocide and crimes against humanity. It seeks to ensure perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community are charged and put on trial. This court is the present form of the international community’s attempt to learn the lessons of previous genocides, such as the Holocaust.


Washington, DC

The capital of the United States of America was created specifically to house the newly formed independent United States. The land was purchased to create a capital that would govern the US, but would be independent of all the states that had formed the union.

The US President and politicians of Washington have played an incredibly important role in the lives of US citizens and the lives of the global community.