Wander from the streets of Verona to the moors of Scotland on this smashing Shakespeare tour.
Danish princes, Scottish generals, Italian nobles: Shakespeare really did take his characters from all corners of the known world. Now – handily timed to coincide with the Bard’s birthday and the worldwide lockdown – you can embark upon a Google Earth tour of the locations which inspired Shakespeare’s plays. Mixing well-known historical spots with lesser-known inspirations, the tour is essentially a literary-themed gap year that you can do in your pyjamas, and here’s what you can see!
Some of the more notable attractions include the Agora of Athens (featured in Timon of Athens), the Rialto Bridge of Venice (The Merchant of Venice), and our very own White Cliffs of Dover, which Gloucester wishes to throw himself off in King Lear. Perhaps more fascinating, however, are the more under-the-radar sites which appear disguised as Shakespearean settings.
Witness Kronborg, a windswept Renaissance castle on the shores of Denmark, which is believed to be the model for Hamlet’s Elsinore. Or Birnam Oak in Scotland, rumoured to be the final survivor of Birnam Wood, which came so fatefully to Dunsinane at the denouement of Macbeth. You can also catch sight of Micklegate Bar in York, where severed heads are displayed in Henry VI, and perhaps the most famous Shakespearean location of all: Juliet’s balcony, attached to the fair Verona home of the wealthy Dal Capello family. (Cappello = Capulet, you see?)
There’s plenty for literature lovers to get stuck into, and it also does a neat little job of piquing one’s wanderlust for a little post-lockdown visit. You can join the tour here, but don’t be surprised if it leads you “to unpathed waters, undreamed shores”…
You can also catch some excellent Shakespeare productions online, as the Royal Shakespeare Company release plays to BBC iPlayer, and the National Theatre will stream Twelfth Night and Antony and Cleopatra soon.
Also published on Medium.