With its oldest sections dating from the 10th century, London’s Westminster Abbey is like a giant volume on the history of England, constructed in stone. The soaring gothic church is the burial place of kings, queens, statesmen, and cultural luminaries—and it’s been the site of coronations and royal weddings (most recently, of course, that of Prince William and Kate Middleton).
You can just visit Westminster, or you can truly learn about it—on a three-hour led by an historian or art historian—when you see it with AFAR partner Context Travel. Context’s private, small group, and custom tours are led by specialists in their field and are selected for their skills at bringing their subjects to life. It’s less of a tour and more of an intimate conversation among curious guests.
Context Travel’s tours can be found throughout Europe and cover periods spanning the days of the ancient Greeks to contemporary landmarks. Here are some to add to your upcoming travel plans.
Context Travel’s Amsterdam History Tour: The Dutch Golden Age focuses on the period in the 17th century when a small republic on the shores of the North Sea came to dominate the commercial life of Europe. On this three-hour private tour, your guide—either a historian or art historian—will introduce the canals and stately rowhouses and describe the social and cultural context of this fascinating moment in the city’s history.
Dedicated to the god Apollo, Delphi was famous among the ancient Greeks as the home of an oracle who delivered inscrutable messages to those who visited her. The archaeologists who lead Context Travel’s Delphi Excursion, on the other hand, bring only clarity to this site that combines mythology, mysticism, and magic. You’ll travel just over two hours from Athens, but your day-long outing will take you back millennia.
On the three-hour private or small group tour of Westminster Abbey, your guide—a specialist in English history and art—will point out the intricate stonework, the heraldry of the stained-glass windows and tombs, and the range of architectural styles seen at the church. You can count on a fascinating and far-flung conversation, encompassing everything from the War of the Roses to World War II.
The three-hour private or small group Madrid through the Centuries tour includes the city’s most historic square, the Plaza Mayor; landmarks constructed during the reigns of the Hapsburg monarchs; and sites where key moments in the Spanish Civil War took place. Your guide—a historian, art historian, or other local scholar—will uncover the many layers of Madrid’s history.
The glories of ancient Rome and the masterpieces of the Renaissance are well known, but one of Context Travel’s many tours in the Italian capital shines a light on an often overlooked period. Led by a local historian or archaeologist, the Fall and Rise of Rome tour covers the roughly 1,000 years between the fall of the Empire and the emergence of the city as one of the centers of the Renaissance. As you wander the neighborhood of San Clemente, you’ll stop at landmarked medieval churches that are off the path that most visitors follow.
Explore more in-depth tours across Europe and around the world with Context Travel.