About Go Historic

What is Go Historic?

Go Historic is a large and ambitious project (details below) based on a few simple principles:

1. History is important and relevant.
2. History is interesting and fun.
3. History is best learned, understood, and appreciated by "going" (thus our name) - visiting, seeing, touching, experiencing, and preserving historically important places and things.

Go Historic a specialty travel guide dedicated to history buffs, art lovers, church crawlers, architecture aficionados, bridge collectors, battlefield pilgrims, literature fans, and other cultural travelers. Our Places section is an extensive database of historic places, archaeological sites, literary sites, historical markers, listed buildings, notable architecture (including some modern works), monuments, and museums. You can search or browse by location, style, period, date, architect, and more, enabling you to discover interesting places both across the globe and in your own hometown. Once you've found them, our photos, descriptions, timelines, reviews, and blog posts can help you learn more and decide whether they're worth a trip, and our interactive maps and visitor information can help you plan your visit.

Go Historic is a virtual museum, with a growing collection of artworks, artifacts, manuscripts, memorabilia and other objects that you can view online and then find out how to visit in person. Go Historic's virtual collection is not limited to just one museum, or even to objects that are in museums at all! So you can view stained glass windows that are in museums alongside those from the same period that are still in cathedrals. Objects are linked with their original and current locations, connected with their creators where known, and tagged with our controlled vocabulary of categories, styles, materials, and iconography. We also provide multiple photos, detailed descriptions, bibliographies, and timelines where available.

Go Historic is a reference for reliable information on history, architecture and art, providing timelines, profiles of historical figures, a comprehensive glossary of art and architecture terms, and more. Providing academic-quality information on these subjects is a primary goal of Go Historic, so we make every effort to check our facts, list our sources, solicit corrections, and provide links to official and peer-reviewed resources wherever possible. Additionally, our glossary incorporates the entire Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus,® developed by a consortium of museums and scholars.

[Coming soon!] The Go Historic Directory provides resources for "going historic" - historic travel, lodgings, real esate, preservation, history-related jobs, and more.

[Coming soon!] Go Historic is a community of history buffs and art lovers who can add places, share photos, record their visits to historic places, plan trips, follow the contributions of other members, and more.

Who's behind Go Historic?

Go Historic was created by Holly Hayes, a history buff, art lover, former academic, amateur photographer, and self-taught web developer. This website is a personal project and labor of love, with no corporate, institutional or non-profit sponsorship. You can learn more about Holly here.

What does the "Beta" in your logo mean?

A "beta" designation indicates that a website is in its early stages and is likely to have some imperfections and occasional technical problems. It is a temporary phase characterized by lots of testing, corrections, improvements and frequent changes. Go Historic launched on December 12, 2012, and because it is built and maintained by a team of one, is likely to be in beta for a year or two.

What inspired the project?

First, there is nothing worse (well, maybe there a few things worse) than walking or driving right past something you would have loved to see but didn't even know was there. For instance, I lived within a few blocks of J.R.R. Tolkien's house for months without realizing it, and I only stumbled on it by luck during an evening stroll. If I had only realized this after I left, I would have been sad. Similarly, after returning home from a trip I regularly find about some wonderful place or detail that I completely missed, I'm bummed out. But if Go Historic had existed then, I could have quickly discovered the historic places around my house or learned more about the highlights of a place before I visited. Sadness averted!

Second, I've always wanted a central resource where I could find good, updated information on historic attractions, but have never found one. When planning a trip, I have to visit many websites and thumb through a few books to find all the information I want, which boils down to two things: (1) which sights I should see based on my interests, and (2) practical information about each of those chosen sights. One website might give me the opening hours and a map, another will provide a good general summary, a third might provide decent photos, and usually only a specialty book or circa-1997 academic website will give me detailed artistic or historical information. So my goal is to make Go Historic into the centralized resource I was looking for. (Bonus: By putting it all on the web instead of into a book, there are no limitations of space and it's available instantly everywhere!)

And finally, the community components of Go Historic are inspired primarily by my experiences with Flickr. I love interacting with fellow history/architecture/art enthusiasts there, and I have discovered so many new places, things and connections thanks to the photos and comments others have posted. But all this great stuff is scattered throughout various photostreams, with no central directory for each building, artwork or location. I would love it if I could see, for instance, all the photos and comments posted by my Flickr friends on a particular building or city. And if those contributions could be combined with academic-quality background information and the most recent opening hours, even better! So that's what I'm trying to do here at Go Historic - create a hub where photos, comments and reviews from a worldwide community of history and architecture enthusiasts can be shared, collected and enjoyed.

What are your criteria for listing people, places and things?

We aim to include all sites that meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Historic significance - something important happened on this site (with "important" roughly defined as "made, or will make, the history books")
  2. Biographical significance - someone important lived, died, visited, or is memorialized here
  3. Architectural significance - unique or otherwise notable architecture
  4. Artistic significance - an important work of art was created or is displayed here
  5. Venerable age - any building or structure of a sufficiently early date to be considered historical

Why are there so many more listings for North America and Europe than the rest of the world? Other continents have history and culture too, you know!

The Go Historic database is pretty disproportionate right now, but that is certainly not intended as a statement about the importance of various regions. The primary reason is a practical one: the greater accessibility of information for these places in the English language. For instance, we imported the entire National Register of Historic destinations database for the USA, which contains over 85,000 sites! It will take a long time to beat that by adding sites manually. Secondly, the editor of this website happens to live in the USA, speak English natively, and travel frequently in the UK and Europe, so naturally these circumstances are reflected in the content. However, as mentioned above, the goal is to include all notable sites, and contributors will be invited to add sites reflecting their own interests and travels, so the ratios should equal out over time.

I have a comment/complaint/suggestion about Go Historic's design/layout/features/functionality. Where do I send it?

Constructive feedback is most welcome and helps make this website better. Please send general comments and suggestions to hello@gohistoric.com.