Berlitz Blog

Published : Wed, Sep 30, 2020 4:00 PM GMT

Some cultural sites are not what they seem

Travel is a major reason people take language learning and cultural training. Be careful, however, some historic sites are not what they seem.

Italy

For example, there’s Juliet’s Balcony in Verona, Italy. As a fictional character, Juliet never stood there—or anywhere.

That doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the world from flocking there each year to see this famous site at the heart of William Shakespeare’s enduring play, Romeo and Juliet.

The house in Verona does date from the 14th Century, and was owned by a family named Caputo, not too dissimilar from Juliet’s surname, Capulet, prompting some people to think this is really her house.

The building was designated “Juliet’s Home,” about 1905 by Verona’s city fathers as an attempt to build tourism. The famous balcony was added in the mid-1930s.

Washington, D.C.

A popular destination for tourists visiting the U.S. Capitol, both domestic and international, is 150-year old Ford’s Theater. But they’re not walking the same floors as famed U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who was fatally shot there in 1865.

The theatre was gutted after the assassination and used as a medical museum and for storage of U.S. war records. The building’s interior collapsed in the late 1800s, killing more than 20 people. It was repaired and turned into a warehouse.

The building was gutted again in 1968 and rebuilt to resemble the original Ford’s Theatre, even using photos of the Lincoln crime scene for guidance.

During performances there, the President’s Box is always left vacant.

Greece

Millions of tourists visit Athens each year, and a favorite spot is the Parthenon. Unfortunately, it’s not the original.

The original Parthenon, built about 430 BC was destroyed by a bomb in the late 1600s while being used for storage of military materials. Hundreds of its marble blocks were removed and shipped around the world.

Finally, a restoration program began in the 1970s.

Don’t want to travel all the way to Greece. There is a full-size replica of the Parthenon in the southeastern city of Nashville, Tennessee, in the southeastern U.S.

Berlin

During the cold war, Checkpoint Charlie, in Berlin, was famous as the dividing point between the east and west, and was frequently mentioned in news stories across the globe.

It is a popular spot for tourists, but it’s a fake. The real Checkpoint Charlie was removed in the 1990s, and a new one was built later as a “historic site,” complete with sandbags and men dressed as uniformed soldiers.

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