Massachusetts – Where America’s Seeds Were Sown
The Pilgrims probably thought of many noble things back in 1620, when they landed at the Plymouth Shore, today located in the state of Massachusetts.
They probably did not imagine, however, that they would be the first of millions of Europeans to cross the Atlantic and stay forever. Plymouth Rock,
today girt by a temple-like structure, is one of the many great places, historic and modern alike, one can visit in Massachusetts. Vast, beautiful,
and wild areas, one of the most important metropolitan centers of the East Coast (Boston), places with a long and stunning history like Salem, and a
wonderful Atlantic shore are but few of the many reasons that draw so many visitors to New England’s most important state.
The earliest among the settlers, the Pilgrims and Puritans, planted the seeds of a prosperous British colony, mainly exporting fish, lumber, tar,
and various other resources. The prevailing political system in colonial Massachusetts was practically a theocracy, built around the Congregationalist
township settlement system. Dissenters, like Ann Hutchinson and Roger Williams, were expelled. The hostilities of the American Revolution started near
Boston, in Lexington and Concord, where American militias first confronted British soldiers. The famous Boston Tea Party was one of the major events
leading up to the War of Independence. Massachusetts liked to be pioneer among the states, e.g. when it abolished slavery in 1783, the first state to
effectively do so. In the first half of the 19th century, Massachusetts, especially the town of Concord, became the center of the newly-forming American
philosophical stream, dubbed Transcendentalism.
Massachusetts is one of the smallest US states, with only slightly over 10,000 square miles. Population-wise, the state is however – mainly due to
the Boston metropolitan area – one of the largest states. The 2000 US Census counted 6.3 million Massachusetts residents. Massachusetts has a humid
continental climate with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. The state with the Puritan roots is still Christian-dominated. However, there are now
more Catholics (47%) than Protestants (31%). John F. Kennedy, out of Massachusetts, became the first Catholic president of the US.
Cape Cod is the place to go when you want to leave your worries behind and want to enter a world of nature and beautiful shorelines. The islands
Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, a short ferry ride from the mainland, are among the main attractions in the region. Cape Cod itself is world-famous
for its rolling dunes, wonderful beaches, and typical gable-roofed houses. There are also many excellent golf courses on the Cape Cod peninsula.
Culturally, the cape offers great museums, like the Heritage Museum and Gardens, displaying countless Americana items, the NOAA Fisheries Science
Aquarium in Woods Hole, or the JFK Memorial and Museum, which gives visitors an insight into America’s most charismatic president of the 20th century
and his Massachusetts roots. The Cape Cod National Seashore is great for hiking. Canoeing, bike tours, whale-watching trips and many more exciting
things can be done on Cape Cod. On Martha’s Vineyard, 45 minutes off the coast, the “gingerbread” cottages are a sight to see. The “Flying Horses”
is the oldest carousel in America. The name of the island is derived from the daughter of the 17th century British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold.
Nantucket waits to be explored by bike or foot. And the Nantucket Sound is a great place for taking a dip in the Atlantic. One of the earliest
whaling and fishing bases, Nantucket’s architecture and nature take visitors on a time travel to eras long-forgotten.
Salem was the center of the witchcraft trials that reverberated throughout New England in the 1690s. Back then, the overly religious and
superstitious Puritans went on a crusade against enemies from within, people they believed represented Satan himself or practiced witchcraft.
Today, Salem offers a lot of documentation of its colonial past. Various witchcraft museums explain the roots and developments of the anti-witchcraft
trials. In the harbor, a reconstruction of the large 18th-century sailing ship “Friendship” is the most visible and picturesque sight. Next to the
town, the Salem Woods, in Puritan times known as Great Pastures, are an ideal place for a family picnic or a hike.
Lexington / Concord
Within a few miles to the west of Boston, one finds a great array of historic sites. Close to the towns of Lexington and Concord, the first battles
of the Revolutionary War took place. “The shot heard around the world” was fired here. The Minuteman National Historical Park preserves the old battle
sites on 900 acres. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn more of the region’s historical significance. Modernism is also present, manifested in the
Gropius House in nearby Lincoln, once the home of architectural great Walter Gropius. South of Lexington and Concord lies Walden Pond. Surrounded by an
array of beautiful wilderness, it was here that American philosopher Henry David Thoreau spent two years far away from civilization. The woods around
the pond attract many hikers and bikers and the area is easily among the most beautiful natural sites in Massachusetts.
The capital and most populous city of Massachusetts, Boston is one of the most important financial and cultural centers on the East Coast and the
US in general. Founded by the Puritans in 1630, the Boston metropolitan area today has more than 4 million residents. Culture is written with a capital
C in Boston. The city houses many theaters and opera houses, such as the Cutler Majestic, the Boston Opera House or the Wang Center. Home to the
world-famous Boston Symphony Orchestra or the Boston Pops, there really is a major cultural event every night in Boston.
For those who prefer great sports instead, Fenway Park, one of America’s oldest ballparks and home ground of the famous Red Sox, is the place to go.
Accomodation opportunities in Boston are plentiful. They serve any kind of budget. Various youth hostels and other budget accommodation are present as
well as the big hotel chains and other upscale lodging. Daytrips destinations from Boston include the Lexington-Concord area, Salem, Plymouth, and even
Massachusetts, America’s cradle, offers a rich diversity for everyone’s taste.