Discover the History and Charm of Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg, Virginia is a city that offers history, culture, and entertainment for your summer vacation. Williamsburg was founded in the 17th century and served as the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780. It also hosts Colonial Williamsburg, a National Historic Landmark District that showcases and reenacts the colonial period.
The history of Williamsburg is extensive and intriguing, ranging from the indigenous American tribes to the present day. The area was initially settled by the Powhatan Confederacy, a group of Algonquian-speaking tribes that ruled most of eastern Virginia. The first English immigrants landed in 1632 and named the place Middle Plantation, for its spot between the James and York rivers. In 1699, the capital of the colony was transferred from Jamestown to Middle Plantation, which was renamed Williamsburg in homage to King William III of England.
Williamsburg was one of America’s first planned cities and became the center of political, religious, economic, and social life in Virginia. It was here that many influential leaders emerged from the College of William & Mary (founded in 1693), such as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler. It was also here that many important events leading to the American Revolution took place, such as Patrick Henry’s famous speech at St. John’s Church and George Washington’s assembly of the Continental Army for the siege of Yorktown.
After the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780, Williamsburg lost its prominence and reverted to a quiet college town and rural county seat. Many of its colonial buildings survived into the early 20th century but were neglected or altered over time. In 1926, Reverend Dr. D.A.R. Goodwin, the rector of Bruton Parish Church, initiated a restoration project with the help of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who funded and led the massive reconstruction of the 18th-century city. Today, Colonial Williamsburg is a living museum that preserves and interprets American colonial history.
Visiting Williamsburg is like traveling back in time and witnessing the life of the colonists personally. You can discover the historic area, which spans 301 acres and includes more than 500 restored or rebuilt buildings, gardens, shops, and taverns. You can also engage with costumed interpreters, who impersonate historical characters and ordinary people from the 18th century. You can observe them perform various skills and crafts, such as blacksmithing, carpentry, weaving, and printing. You can also participate in various events, such as militia drills, court sessions, musical concerts, and theatrical plays.
But visiting Williamsburg is not only about history; it is also about having fun and relaxing yourself. Williamsburg has plenty of choices for dining, shopping, and entertainment that match every preference and budget. You can find a variety of eateries that serve local delicacies, such as Virginia ham, peanut soup, and Brunswick stew. You can also find cuisines from around the world, such as Italian, Mexican, and Asian. You can shop for gifts, antiques, and art at Merchants Square, a lovely shopping district that features more than 40 shops and boutiques. You can also enjoy live music, festivals, and events throughout the year at various venues in Williamsburg.