The world is filled with so many astonishing and impressive man-made historical sites and wonders, it’s sometimes hard to narrow down the best. But lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of 7 historical sites and neighborhoods our JG Black Book Collection Members think every traveler should visit at some point in their life. Whether it’s driving down Switzerland’s longest historic monument, enjoying a private crater lunch in Africa’s ‘Garden of Eden,’ or discovering the secrets of Montmartre on a family vacation through France, we’ve got something that everyone can enjoy.
The Chedi Andermatt
When you visit The Chedi Andermatt, make sure you head out for a walk at the top of the Gotthard Pass – a mountain road in the Swiss Alps – and enjoy the captivating atmosphere as you find yourself immersed in a bewitching, rocky landscape with small lakes. Once you’ve reached the Gotthard Hospice at the top of the pass, you can make a turn on to the famous, historic road, the Tremola. The journey on the Tremola leads over cobblestones to the south side of the Gotthard Pass. This spectacular road, with its hairpin, bends snaking down to Airolo, constitutes Switzerland’s longest historic monument.
The Stafford London
Nestled right in the heart of St James’s, The Stafford London is situated in one of London’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods. Not only is the hotel itself steeped in history and character – from the 380-year old working Wine Cellar with underground corridors to St James’s Palace to the beautifully restored country-chic Carriage House rooms and suites, once serving as stables for 18th century nobility living on the site – the narrow alleyways and secluded streets and courtyards of St James’s will open up an enchanting world of eccentricities and charm. The Stafford’s Executive Head Concierge, Frank Laino, loves to take guests into this “magic world” with a private historical tour, finishing it up in The American Bar, where a very exclusive menu of 12 specially-curated cocktails has been created to take you on a journey around the hidden corners of St. James’s and the stories that surround them.
With Global CommUnity’s new France itinerary, families can discover the Secrets of Montmartre. Of all the historic country villages that were annexed to Paris in the 19th century, Montmartre is the most famous, noted for the Sacré Coeur Basilica, its open-air artists on the Place du Tertre, charming hillside vineyard and artists like Toulouse Lautrec, Picasso, and Renoir. Some of the city’s oldest religious chapels are here, including the crypt where St-Denis was martyred and the Jesuit order was founded in 1534. This neighborhood can be explored in a half day tour, and its location makes it ideal for a full day combined with a visit to the St-Ouen Flea Market or the 19th-century Covered Passages and their charming boutiques.
Although the Ngorongoro Crater is far from your typical neighborhood, it’s historical ties are unparalleled. Over two million years ago, Ngorongoro was an enormous volcanic mountain rivaling Kilimanjaro in size. Following a volcanic eruption, the tip of the mountain collapsed in on itself, creating the largest unbroken crater in the world – the Ngorongoro Crater – and what is now known as “Africa’s Garden of Eden.” An exquisite geological formation, the crater spans 12 miles across and sustains a vast variety of over 30,000 animals, representing almost every specifies of wildlife in East Africa and making it one of the most densely packed wildlife areas in the world.
Home to the “Big 5” and one of the highest concentration of lions in Africa, Ngorongoro Crater offers one of the most intense wildlife viewing experiences on earth. Fittingly, the Ngorongoro Crater was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2013. From Elewana’s The Manor, guests are only a short drive from the famous Ngorongoro Crater. The property has special permission to host bush lunches for its guests in a private area within the Crater away from the crowds. These gourmet affairs, set in a shady glade with table and chairs, provide an opportunity for guests to enjoy Africa’s Garden of Eden in exclusivity and watch the pageant of wildlife from the comfort of their safari chairs.
At Azura Quilalea Private Island, guests can take a 10-minute scenic helicopter trip to Ibo Island, the foremost heritage site in Northern Mozambique. Ibo is full of fascinating architecture, old ruins and lots of cultural history. The houses and buildings on the island are remnants from the 1500’s, built by an amalgamation of Portuguese, Dutch, Indian, Arabian, and Chinese settlers. Sporting some of the oldest buildings in Mozambique, Ibo has been designated as a future World Heritage site.
The Selous Game Reserve is the oldest and largest game reserve on the African continent and was awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status in 1982. Aside from some luxury safari camps such as Azura Selous Game Reserve, the most historic landmark here is the gravesite of Frederick Courtney Selous, an explorer and conservationist after whom the reserve is named. Selous led a fascinating life which ended when he was killed by German forces in the hills of Beho Beho during WWI. Guests can visit the modest gravesite of this remarkable man and reflect on his incredible legacy.
Although it is the second largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, Benguerra Island is only 55 km². There are no neighborhoods here, but guests of Azura Benguerra Island can do an island drive which includes a visit to the local school – the first on the island that was built with donations from Azura’s Rainbow Fund. Passing through the village, visitors learn more about the local culture while enjoying panoramic views of the diverse topography.
The excavations at Akrotiri have uncovered one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. The first habitation at the site dates back to the late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium BC). Akrotiri is often characterized as the prehistoric Pompeii of the Aegean. The excavations revealed that there was an entire city buried under lava. The large extent of the settlement (20 hectares), the elaborate drainage system, and the sophisticated multi-story buildings with the beautiful wall paintings, furniture and vessels show its great development and prosperity. The various imported objects found in the buildings indicate the wide network of the external relations Akrotiri had, not only with Crete, but with the Greek Mainland, Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt.
While the Sheldon Chalet feels like a modern, luxury accommodation, the history of this mountain house actually dates back to the 1950’s when legendary Alaskan Pilot, Don Sheldon, claimed this spectacular piece of property while mapping the Alaska Range with Bradford Washburn. In 1966, Don tied lumber to the wing struts of his Cessna 180 and Super Cub airplanes and made numerous flights into the Amphitheater area before obtaining enough materials to build the Mountain House. When Don died of cancer in 1975, these building materials were buried under decades of snow and forgotten. But then in 2015, son Robert Sheldon, discovered them after completing 35% of the architectural design for a new structure.
50 years later, the Sheldon family is continuing a long-planned vision for this spectacular structure. Sheldon Chalet was completed in early 2018, built to host luxury adventure travelers and offering an unparalleled experience on Denali’s flanks. Featuring private chefs, guides, gear and concierge services, Sheldon Chalet was designed with meticulous detail to showcase the area’s stunning views and compliment the extraordinary surroundings.