IELTS Cue Cards – Describe a historical place that you know

Describe a historical place that you know.
You should say:

What the place is?
Where it is located?
What is the historical significance of the place?

and describe your experience of the place.

Follow-up questions

  • What do you think of the future trend of historic places?
  • Will government strengthen its protection toward historic places?
  • What are the changes brought about by the historic place in local economy, people, etc?
  • What is the effect of tourists on the place?

Possible answer 1 for the above speaking cue cards

I have a special interest in visiting famous places and on my list historical places always get preferences. I have visited many historical places like Machu Picchu in Peru, The Pyramids at Giza, Taj Mahal, Parthenon in Greece and many more. The historical significance and the site attractions sometimes mesmerised me. The historical place that I would like to talk about today is Colosseum (also known as Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre) which is situated in Rome, Italy. It is basically an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy which is the largest amphitheatre in the world and is made of concrete and stone. The construction of Colosseum began under emperor Vespasian in 70 AD and was completed under Titus in 80 AD.

The Colosseum could hold approximately 50,000 to 80,000 spectators and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles etc. The Colosseum was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980 and was also included among the New Seven Wonders of the World. It is 189 meters long, and 156 meters wide, with a base area of 6 acres .The height of the outer wall is 48 meters. The Colosseum nowadays is one of the major tourist attractions in Rome with thousands of tourists each year paying to view the interior arena.

I have heard and seen of this famous place a lot and when I witnessed it for the first time, I became speechless. The huge architect, the overwhelming interior and exterior decoration was beyond appreciation. The place kept reminding me the classical mythological and historical facts I have read and heard about.

Possible answer 2 for the above speaking cue cards

I am going to talk about an amazing historical place that I know about, even though I’ve never visited it. I’ll tell you what it is, where it is and as much as I can about the historical meaning of the place and finally my own reactions/ experiences regarding it.

I want to tell you about Stonehenge. This is an ancient set of standing stones, arranged in a circle. It is located in Wiltshire, in England, but I think it would be fair to say the image of it would be recognised worldwide, as it is possibly one of the most famous historic sites in the world.

In terms of the meaning of the place, it’s really impossible to say. It is so very old, even archaeologists aren’t sure exactly when it was built, estimates go back to as long ago as 3000 BC, which is mind boggling to me! It is certainly accurate to describe it as a prehistoric monument. Some people think it might have started as a burial mound and be even more ancient that 5,000 years. The colossal slabs are arranged like huge door frames, no-one really knows how they were erected without the technology of modern times, but everyone agrees it was an incredible feat of engineering and showed foresight and tenacity in spaces! However, it is certain that they were somehow aligned so that at key stages of the lunar (moon) and solar (sun) cycles, the way the light strikes the stones is of some significance. Apparently, it was deliberately constructed so that the rising sun only reached the middle of the stones for just one day of the year.

Lots of people like to try and imagine what sort of ceremonies and importance the stones might have had for the people who built it, but the truth is we can’t say. Even today, modern day druids have for many years gathered at the stones for the summer solstice (longest day of the year) and winter solstice (shortest day of the year) to watch the sunrise and mark the event with their own celebrations.

For me, I think this is the ultimate historical place, even though I have yet to visit it. It is just so remarkable to think it was constructed all those thousands of years ago just by physical labour. Even the stones themselves – the largest of which are up to 30 feet and weigh about 25 tons, had to be brought to the site from about 20 miles away, how on earth was that possible? For me, the stones prove that with determination, tenacity and working together it is sometimes possible to achieve what seems impossible. At the same time, the way they have endured over time gives perspective on our place in the world. Time passes, people and generations pass too, but they can leave a legacy behind even if it only one of many unanswered questions for future people to ponder over!

[ Written by – Lucy Marris | Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

How to answer this cue card?

This cue card is different from the cue card ‘describe a historic place you have visited’. For the later one, you should pick a historic place which is usually located in your country and you have visited. In this case, you need to say when you visited and what you enjoyed there. But for the cue card ‘describe a historic place that you know about’, you can talk about any historic place located at anywhere in the world. Not necessarily you need to visit a place to know about it.

Do not pick a place which has very little historic significance or the places that store historical evidence but not itself is a historic place. For instance, you can learn a lot about history from the museum but the museum is not a historic place.

A historic place can be part of national history or international history. For instance, some places in your country may be the part of the history of your country but not known in world history. In your IELTS you can pick such nationally recognised historic places.

There is a subtle difference between a famous place and the historic place. To be a historic place, the place itself has to be qualified and registered as the historic place.
Don’t pick a broad area or a whole city as a historic place, rather pick the particular place. Like, there are lots of historic places in Rome like Colosseum, The Pantheon, St Peter’s Basilica etc. and if you pick Rome as the historic place, you won’t be able to cover all the historic significance of this city. Alternatively, picking only Colosseum or The Pantheon would give you a better option to describe it.


Q. What do you think of the future trend of historic places?
Answer: This is a really controversial issue. There are many people who believe that historic places should be preserved because they are the depiction of a country’s overall civilisation. These places constitute an integral part of a nation’s history, culture and heritage. On the other hand, opponents of this trend argue that places with historical significance should be demolished and replaced by something modern that will meet nowaday’s needs and demands, such as supermarkets, cinemas, theatres, and so on. Personally, I strongly oppose the latter opinion and I totally believe that historic places must be retained either for usage, if possible, or for posterity. The future is uncertain and depends, many times, on the decision of political leaders and the powerful people. However, I believe that historical places in future would become more important and would be preserved more carefully. More tourists would be interested in visiting such places and they would be one of the main attraction among foreign tourists.

Tip: A good way to fully answer the question is to say something general about historic places and then justify your opinion. For example, you could say that you want them to be preserved or not. Give examples to put more articulation.

Q. Will government strengthen its protection toward historic places?
Answer: I can’t really know for sure, but I would say that these places must be protected no matter what. As mentioned, historic places reflect a country’s history, culture and civilisation and they are a nation’s brand. To illustrate, Greek authorities make significant efforts to preserve and renovate the structure of the Acropolis and every year they perform programmes for the restoration of the Hill. They also work to make different monuments approachable by the tourists and also maintain their initial identity.

Q. What are the changes brought about by the historic place in local economy, people, etc?
Answer: When I think of changes brought by the historic places, the first thing that comes to my mind is ‘benefits’. Firstly, these places provide employment and income to many people, not only in some particular seasons with many tourists, but also throughout the year. In addition, as these places are famous and a country is characterised by those, locals and foreign visitors will pay them a visit and this results in gaining popularity of a country. Furthermore, as a result of these visits, the whole economy will develop and these countries will flourish and prosper. People would learn diverse cultural aspects and would be able to present their own cultures and custom to the visitors.

Q. What is the effect of tourists on the place?
Answer: Visits from people of other countries to these places might lead to both positive and negative consequences. The most important thing is that a place will become really popular and prestigious and will attract more visitors every year. Through the internet and social media, those tourists will share photos and videos of their activities and their friends will learn about those places. The visiting tourists bring many foreign cultures and customs which are often unknown to the local people. The increasing tourists often increase the business opportunity in the local area.

Apart from the beneficial aspects, there are some negative implications as well. As these places are very crowded with the tremendous number of visitors, they become dirty because everyone throws their rubbish wherever they want and this is unhygienic and if the trash isn’t cleaned immediately, a place like this will become smelly. Local people learn foreign customs and culture which often threaten the local culture.

[The part three answers are written by Mary, UK]

Related IELTS Resources

Take a practice test to find out what is your current weakness in terms of IELTS scale and allow more time to improve your weak spots. The following IELTS resources will help you to develop your skills faster:

Like Tweet Pin it Share Email

Leave a Reply