Megaliths as tourist sites

Megaliths have been destinations of travellers and visitors for several centuries. But individuals have probably at all times found it interesting to look at timemarks such as ancient monuments. Sometimes they wrote journals about their thoughts and experiences; one of the earliest travel journals is Pausanias' account of his journey through Greece.

Today heritage sites add to the attractiveness of towns and sea-resorts such as Heiligendamm for guests and tourists. Many megaliths have become important sightseeing points in the present, e.g. in

As a consequence, megaliths such as these are often sign-posted and have been fitted with benches, bins, and information-boards summarising the results of previous investigations and pointing to the relevant law of monument protection. They are also sometimes described and depicted in tourist brochures and other local or regional publicity material (see also Liebers 1986: chapter 11), some of which is available on the World Wide Web (e.g. about Lancken-Granitz and about the whole of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).

Sites and events which are both popular among visitors and associated with the past include the open-air museum Groß Raden and events such as the Störtebeker Festspiele, Rock'n'Ruins and '1000 years of Mecklenburg'.

Why do people enjoy visiting ancient monuments and other historical attractions? Perhaps they approach them with a feeling of nostalgia, perhaps they appreciate the aura of these authentic witnesses from prehistoric times. In any case, megaliths are different from other attractions and a visit may be educational and/or entertaining for this reason alone. Archaeologists normally appreciate such interest in their field, if only because it contributes to a stronger social acceptance of their efforts to preserve ancient monuments. However, too much interest from tourists can sometimes lead to a desecration of ancient monuments, especially through rubbish left there.


Literature

Liebers, Claudia (1986) Neolithische Megalithgräber in Volksglauben und Volksleben. Frankfurt/M. etc.: Lang.

© Cornelius Holtorf