5 European destinations for World War history buffs

Why not learn a little on your next vacation?

A European vacation is at the top of many travelers’ wish lists. But for history buffs interested in the two world wars, it’s an absolute must. From France and Germany to Poland and Bosnia, the continent is brimming with historic sites.

Both world wars have been covered extensively in history books, but nothing matches walking in the footsteps of history.

With plenty of sites to see, here are five European hotspots for history fanatics:

The Palace of Versailles, France

Fans of royal splendor have been flocking to Versailles for generations, but for students of history, the French palace serves as a link between the first and second world wars. On June 28, 1919, diplomats from around the world gathered here, in the dazzling Hall of Mirrors to sign the treaty that officially ended World War I.

Many historians now consider the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles directly responsible for the later rise of Nazism and subsequently the second world war. Other, like French field marshal Ferdinand Foch, felt the treaty didn’t do enough to reign in the defeated Germany.

“This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years!” the retired general told an American audience in 1921.

Nuremberg, Germany

If you want to dig deeper into the origins of the Nazi Party and learn about the events that occurred as the war unfolded, a visit to the Nuremberg Trials Memorial is a must. The city hosted both the Nazis’ mass rallies before the war and the war crimes trials that followed after Allied victory.

While the city brings to mind some of the darkest periods of history, the center also shows how the world can rally to defeat darkness and hold its perpetrators to justice. The one-time site of Nazi rallies is now home to an archive of Nazi-era documents, an invaluable resource for historians.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

If you’re looking for inspiration, Amsterdam offers plenty of it. During World War II, the citizens of this occupied city fought back in whatever ways they were able — always fighting to maintain their rights and their values. The Dutch Resistance Museum gives visitors a front-row seat to what citizens when through during their rebellion.

The Anne Frank House presents another sort of resistance. It was in this secret attic that a young Anne Frank reminded the world that even in a world wrecked by war, small human joys still persist.

Ypres, Belgium

With the Sanctuary Wood Museum and Flanders Fields nearby, a trip to Ypres takes visitors on an exploration through a series of important battlefields of World War I. According to Travel Pulse, there’s an intact World War I trench and a nightly Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate memorial.

Dolomites, Italy

Best known for its open-air museums, the Dolomites mountain range is a sight to see. But this beautiful landscape has a bloody past. Here, Austrian and Italian forces engaged in what many have called the most treacherous battle of World War I.

The outdoor museums offer a unique experience allowing visitors to walk in their footsteps while learning about history.