Historic site

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One of the best known historic sites in Europe, the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Basilica (Pompeii), 2016.jpg
One of the best known historic sites in Europe, the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

A historic site or heritage site is an official location where pieces of political, military, cultural, or social history have been preserved due to their cultural heritage value. Historic sites are usually protected by law, and many have been recognized with the official national historic site status. A historic site may be any building, landscape, site or structure that is of local, regional, or national significance. Usually this also means the site must be at least 50 years or older. [1]


NPS Employee talking to a group of children inside the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site HFCA 1607 NPS Employees 0049.jpg (a06a737670354f5a9f64808f11099424).jpg
NPS Employee talking to a group of children inside the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Iron bed in torture room at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Iron bed in Tuol Sleng prison.JPG
Iron bed in torture room at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The U.S. National Park Service defines a historic site as the "location of a significant event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure, whether standing, ruined, or vanished, where the location itself possesses historic, cultural, or archeological value regardless of the value of any existing structure". [2]

Historic sites can also mark public crimes, such as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia or Robben Island, South Africa. Similar to museums focused on public crimes, museums attached to memorials of public crimes often contain a history component, as is the case at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

Historic site visitors

Historic sites and heritage sites are often maintained for members of the public to be able to visit. Visitors may come out of a sense of nostalgia for bygone eras, out of wishing to learn about their cultural heritage, or general interest in learning about the historical context of the site. [3] [4] Many sites offer guided tours for visitors, [4] conducted by site staff who have been trained to offer an interpretation of life at the time the site represents. [5] A site may also have a visitor center with more modern architecture and facilities, which serves as a gateway between the outside world and the historic site, and allows visitors to learn some of the historical aspects of the site without excessively exposing locations that may require delicate treatment. [6]

See also

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National heritage site Cultural heritage site of national significance

A national heritage site is a heritage site having a value that has been registered by a governmental agency as being of national importance to the cultural heritage or history of that country. Usually such sites are listed in a heritage register that is open to the public, and many are advertised by national visitor bureaus as tourist attractions.

A heritage asset is an item that has value because of its contribution to a nation’s society, knowledge and/or culture. They are usually physical assets, but some countries also use the term in relation to intangible social and spiritual inheritance. The term is found in several contexts:

Conservation and restoration of archaeological sites Process in archaeology

The conservation and restoration of archaeological sites is the collaborative effort between archaeologists, conservators, and visitors to preserve an archaeological site, and if deemed appropriate, to restore it to its previous state. Considerations about aesthetic, historic, scientific, religious, symbolic, educational, economic, and ecological values all need to be assessed prior to deciding the methods of conservation or needs for restoration. The process of archaeology is essentially destructive, as excavation permanently changes the nature and context of the site and the associated information. Therefore, archaeologists and conservators have an ethical responsibility to care for and conserve the sites they put at risk.


  1. "FAQ – Landmark Society".
  2. "National Register Bulletin: How to Complete the National Register Registration Form: Appendix IV: Glossary of National Register Terms". National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior.
  3. Alderson, William T.; Low, Shirley Payne (1 January 1985). Interpretation of Historic Sites. Rowman Altamira. ISBN   9780761991625.
  4. 1 2 Levy, Barbara Abramoff; Lloyd, Sandra Mackenzie; Schreiber, Susan Porter (7 February 2002). Great Tours!: Thematic Tours and Guide Training for Historic Sites. Rowman Altamira. p. xii. ISBN   9780759116757.
  5. Metin Kozak, Luisa Andreu, Progress in Tourism Marketing (2013), p. 134.
  6. Taheri, Babak; Jafari, Aliakbar; O'Gorman, Kevin (2014). "Keeping your audience: Presenting a visitor engagement scale" (PDF). Tourism Management. 42: 321–329. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2013.12.011.

Further reading