Architectural design is an integral part of every culture. Around the world, the ancient history of those long gone can be seen in traces of structural design. From hieroglyphics to mind-blowing engineering methods, Black culture is not exempt from contributing to the structural wonders of the world. In fact, the culture’s past is being preserved around the world and travelers can visit destinations for a glimpse into times long ago.
Here are five must-visit destinations you can explore to check out ancient and historic Black architecture.
Egypt is one of the oldest civilizations not only in Africa but the entire world. Ancient Black architecture can truly be experienced in Egypt. From sacred tombs to towering pyramids, Egypt showcases the sheer genius of generations of ancient people who built the empire from the ground up. A visit to Egypt to learn about Black architecture would be amiss without visiting the pyramids.
The pyramids were built as burial locations for Egyptian royalty. The Pyramid of Giza is the largest of the structures. It was built in 2560 BC as the tomb of King Khufu. Today the 481-foot pyramid is the last of the original Seven Wonders of The World. Considering the time it was built, the pyramid is a true testament to the greatness of ancient Black architecture.
Once you wrap up exploring the pyramids, be sure to stop by the Nubian village of Aswan. The village sits along the Nile River and its history dates back thousands of years. Aswan is a great place to learn about the history of Nubian while also exploring the color architectural designs throughout the village.
For the literature-loving traveler, Eatonville may be the town from Zora Neale Hurston’s classic book Their Eyes Were Watching God. However, Eatonville is a real place and the birthtown of the iconic Black author. Today, travelers can visit Eatonville to check out Black architecture in America’s oldest self-governing African-American city.
The town was incorporated in 1887. However, buildings built in 1881 like the Historic Thomas House are still standing. Now a museum, the Moseley House is the second oldest building in Eatonville and was previously owned by Hurston’s best friend, Miss Tillie. Eatonville offers a look into past African-American life through the historical Black architecture still standing in this century-old town.
Lowcountry includes the South Carolina coast and the nearby Sea Islands. These lands were some of the first to receive enslaved Africans in America. Today, remnants of these people can be seen in the Black architecture remaining in the region. The first Black doctor on St. Helena Island, the home of Dr. York is still standing in the Lowcountry. The house is an example of a vernacular American Foursquare home and the doctor built the house from the ground up. The house was built in 1915.
There are a ton of historic Black architectural wonders to explore in the Lowcountry that have been around for over 100 years. In addition to the doctor’s home, travelers should also visit the community praise house on St. Helena, the Robert Simmons farmhouse, and the Campbell AME Church built in 1853.
Although it’s now known as the Julian Gold Rush Hotel, Hotel Robinson is one of the oldest Black-owned hotels in the US. The hotel was opened by former enslaved man, Albert Robinson, and his wife from San Diego. Construction on the hotel began in 1897 and the couple became famous for their world-class hospitality. While the California gold rush is over, travelers can still visit Julian for a stay at the hotel. The cedar and locust trees Albert planted still surround the hotel today. The current owners maintain the Old World charm of the hotel in honor of the original owners and the property’s legacy.
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