Recently, I had a layover of a few hours in Boston and I decided to get out of the airport to spend some time in the city. It was my third visit to Boston, a city that I like very much, especially because of its many historic districts. And since I only had a few hours in front of me, I decided to walk again the famous Freedom Trail, surely the best way to explore the city!
The Freedom Trail is a 4-kilometre route that goes through significant historic sites of Boston. It is also a way to discover important parts of American history, because if the United States were officially born in Philadelphia, it was in Boston that the first steps of the American Revolution took place.
The Freedom Trail officially begins at Boston Common, the vast public central park established in 1634. Boston Common is the oldest urban park in the United States and has hosted several important events in Boston’s history (ranging from public hangings in the 17th century to protests against the Vietnam War in the 70s).
From Boston Common, just follow the red brick line as it zigzags through the old neighborhoods of the city. It passes the Massachusetts State House and its golden dome, then the oldest cemeteries of Boston (including the beautiful Granary Burying Ground where are, among others, the graves of three signatories of the Declaration of Independence), by old churches, by Faneuil Hall and by the house of the American patriot Paul Revere.
All in all, the Freedom Trail links 16 historic sites of importance, giving you the opportunity to learn more about the beginnings of the American Revolution and the history of the city (it is dotted with multiple interpretation signs). But beyond history, the Freedom Trail is also an opportunity to discover the popular sights of Boston, such as the beautiful Faneuil Hall and its market or the North End neighborhood and its Italian cafes.
Then the Freedom Trail crosses the Charles River and goes to the USS Constitution, the old naval ship built in 1797. The first time I walked the trail five years ago, that’s where I stopped. We had walked all morning and we had no motivation left to hike the last few metres to the Bunker Hill Monument, the official end of the Freedom Trail. I almost ended up doing the same thing this year. But what good is it to talk about a trail if you do not go all the way?
So I walked the last metres to the Bunker Hill Monument, this granite obelisk built in the 19th century to commemorate the location of the first battle between the British and the Patriots during the American Revolutionary War. However, I really didn’t have enough motivation to climb the 294 steps to the top of the monument, which might have given me a nice view on the city. Oh well.
Nevertheless, I was quite satisfied with this quick visit to Boston. After buying a cannoli in the North End, I was able to take the subway back to the airport in time for my flight.
It is possible to walk the trail with a costumed guide (but you have to book in advance and pay a fee). The tourist office in the Boston Common also sells maps of the trail, but if you do not want to pay, the trail is still easy to follow.