As a high school history teacher, I have had the privilege of bringing my senior students on tours of Europe for the past fifteen years. I never imagined that I would get so many opportunities to travel when I went into the teaching profession, but I ended up working in a great district that made room in their budget for the senior class to travel to Europe and help make history come alive for them each year. I am so blessed to be a part of a district that is so committed to giving their students real life experiences. I have learned many things during my years of leading this trips, but one of the first things I learned was that you cannot go to Europe and return home with a clean conscience unless you have taken time to visit one or many cathedrals.
Europe is so full of history, architecture and sheer beauty that there is obviously too much to do in a ten day tour. Since I get to lead this trips each year, I have gotten to see almost all of the wonders of Europe, but I must plan carefully each year to see that my students get the most out of their ten day experience. I am careful to combine adequate amounts of history, modern attractions, and time for fun on our trips. But any of my students will be quick to tell you that whether we are visiting Ireland or Italy, I will never lead a ten day trip without making my team experience at least one or two cathedrals
I am not sure what attracts me to cathedrals so much except their sheer beauty. I have looked far and wide in the U.S. and have never seen any building that compares with the detailed intricacies that most European cathedrals hold. I guess because our buildings are not nearly as old as those in Europe we have a far lower standard of what is beautiful and of what is true architecture. I love dragging my students into cathedrals and seeing their jaws drop as their realize just how much history has happened in these European countries and as they see how young America truly is.
So, the next time you plan a trip to Europe for any reason, make sure that your trip includes time visiting cathedrals. You will be amazed by their size, their beauty and their architecture, not to mention the amazing amounts of history that have happened in each cathedral. I guarentee you’ll be looking for more cathedrals to visit once you begin.