Everyone has to start somewhere — and today, visitors can check out the birthplaces and/or childhood homes of some of history’s most notable figures. Nothing provides additional insight into a famous person quite like seeing the room where he or she had their diapers changed.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Long before he became an iconic figure of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King was born at the home of his maternal grandparents on Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the establishment, which includes several exhibits related to the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s boyhood. But in addition to the birthplace, tourists can also check out Ebenezer Baptist Church, Freedom Hall, and Dr. King’s gravesite — all within walking distance, and accessible for self-guided tours.
Salzburg, Austria’s most notable hometown hero’s birthplace provides a fascinating glimpse into Mozart’s extraordinary boyhood. The museum in Salzburg covers three floors; exhibitions include his most famous portrait (painted by Joseph Lange), original drafts of sheet music, and the clavichord on which it is believed Mozart composed The Magic Flute. Visitors can also check out the ‘birth room’ where the famously eccentric composer was born in 1756.
Knob Creek, Ky. (known today for the delicious Bourbon label of the same name) is where visitors can check out the boyhood home of Honest Abe. The Lincolns lived in this log cabin until young Abraham was seven, when the family relocated to Indiana. The National Park Service has managed the Knob Creek home since 2001.
In 1790, the future conqueror was born at the estate of Charles-Marie Bonaparte and Letizia Ramolino on the island of Corsica. The residence still stands today as a museum devoted to the infamous general and his family. Exhibitions include an extensive art gallery and numerous tools, utensils, and other artifacts dating back to the 18th century. Visitors can also access the Chambre de l’Alcôve, where Napoleon slept after returning from Egypt (where he defeated the Ottoman Turks).
Very little is known about William Shakespeare — we don’t even know for certain if he was actually a man. His birthplace is another mystery, but historians believe the Bard was born in a half-timbered abode in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. That’s where visitors can check out the Shakespeare Museum, which displays furniture, tools, kitchen wares, and other items dating back to the 16th century. The ornate backyard garden is populated with flowers and shrubs that might very well have been there 500 years ago.
If you want to check out a famous birthplace while basking in the Tuscan sunshine, cruise on down to the town of Anchiamo in the picturesque Vinci region. That’s where Leonardo came into the world in 1452, and spent his boyhood exploring the surrounding countryside (which no doubt served as artistic inspiration later in life). The area is also home to an awesome castle, which includes an extensive museum chronicling the artist/inventor’s life.
By Brad Nehring