Virginia’s Top 10 Historic Sites to Visit Stephen B. Goodwin /

Virginia’s Top 10 Historic Sites to Visit

Steeped in history and blessed with natural beauty, Virginia oozes tradition and charm. Located in a remarkably compact area are dozens of carefully preserved sites that tell the stories behind America’s birth and fight for independence as well as its bloody Civil War. From the Revolutionary War to the War Between the States, Virginia has seen more battles on its soil than any other state. With majestic estates of America’s first presidents with the hallowed grounds of its national cemetery to the most significant fields of battle, Virginia is a fascinating place to explore for anyone with an appreciation of history.

10. University of Virginia

Many other universities can claim a long and prestigious history, but what school other than the University of Virginia can boast it was designed by Thomas Jefferson? The third U.S. president, who lived just outside Charlottesville on his Monticello estate, spent the last years of his life designing the university as a model academic institution. Today, the thriving, picturesque campus that opened in 1825 remains a remarkable architectural showcase, dotted with large trees and stately historic brick buildings. Jefferson’s crowning achievement is the domed Rotunda library. Designed to resemble Rome’s Pantheon, the Rotunda serves as the center of a majestic pavilion lined with student dorms that are still in use. A vibrant college town, Charlottesville bustles with energy. Its pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown has dozens of shops and restaurants complemented by street musicians. The mall’s Paramount Theater, opened in 1931, hosts concerts, plays and other special events.

9. Appomattox Court House

The horrific violence of the Civil War came to a most civil end on April 9, 1865 when Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant sat down in the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House and worked out the details of the Army of Northern Virginia’s peaceful surrender. Today, the quaint, quiet village is a National Historic Park with over a dozen buildings including the restored courthouse and McLean House, a theater showing a film on the monumental significance of the surrender and a museum filled with documents and military artifacts related to the milestone event. A gentle, four-mile walking trail allows visitors to relive the history up close at several landmarks such as the site where the Confederate flag of truce was received by Union General George Custer and the road where the defeated Southern army laid down their arms.

Appomattox Court House, Vi
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