My favourite historical places: Dr Elaine Farrell

As part of our weekly series, Dr Elaine Farrell from Queen's University Belfast picks out her favourite historical places to visit

29 Sep 2010, Istanbul, Turkey --- Interior view of the Topkapi palace at Istanbul --- Image by © Torbjˆrn Arvidson/Matton Collection/Corbis

Q: What is your favourite historical place in Britain?

Advertisement

A: I am currently researching 19th-century crime and punishment, so my favourite historical place to visit is Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast. 

It is quite a haunting site, but it is sensitively presented. Visitors can wander through the corridors and cells, see the hangman’s noose, and hear the tales of men, women and children who passed through the prison gates.

Q: What is your favourite historical place overseas?

A: Topkapi Palace in Istanbul is particularly striking.

The palace is divided into separate blocks or cells. Many of the exteriors and interiors are decorated with beautiful ornate tiles, predominantly turquoises and blues, and enhanced with gold.

I was particularly intrigued by the Harem where the queen mother and concubines resided, guarded by eunuchs. The history of the concubines and their children is fascinating; the former were apparently selected to reside in the palace because of their intelligence and beauty. 

Q: Where would you most like to visit?

A: I would really love to travel to Saudi Arabia.

In particular, I would like to visit Mada’en Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site similar to the incredible tombs at Petra in Jordan, which I visited in 2012. Like Petra, the Saudi site boasts an impressive Siq and detailed facades carved into the rock.

The Jordan trip was an amazing adventure, and I suspect that a visit to Saudi would be equally intriguing.

Advertisement

Dr Elaine Farrell is a lecturer in Irish economic and social history at Queen’s University Belfast