University Travel Study

History travel study gives students the opportunity to discover the past in a whole new way, bringing to life the people and events we study in the classroom by exploring the sites where history was made.

2017 – Ambrose Reformation Study Tour

Berlin - Luther Statue
Martin Luther

Dates: May 6 to May 21, 2017

Instructor/Guide: Kyle Jantzen

Countries: Czech Republic, Germany


This trip focused on the Lutheran Reformation in Germany. We began by considering the pre-Reformation Czech reform movement led by Jan Hus, then examined the life and ideas of Martin Luther, including his protest against church abuses, his theology of salvation by faith and grace, his insistence on the priesthood of all believers, and his conviction about the power of Scripture to change lives.


Prague - Charles Bridge
Prague – Charles Bridge
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Dresden, Germany
  • Leipzig, Germany
  • Wittenberg, Germany
  • Erfurt, Germany
  • Marburg, Germany
  • St. Goar, Germany
  • Worms, Germany
  • Mainz, Germany


Other stops along the way included:

  • Terezin (Concentration Camp),
  • Colditz (Castle and POW Escape Museum)
  • Eisleben (Luther’s birth and death houses, and St. Anne’s Church)
  • Eisenach (Wartburg Castle)
  • Marksburg (Castle)
Erfurt - Augustinian Monastery5
Erfurt’s Augustinian Monastery … we’ll stay where Luther lived!

Here’s what else we did:

  • Toured Prague’s famous castle and Jewish Quarter
  • Attended an organ service in the Dresden Frauenkirche
  • Ate dinner at Leipzig’s Auerbachs Keller (where Luther, Bach, and Goethe used to eat)
  • Attending a sung vesper service (motet) featuring Bach hymns in Leipzig’s Thomaskirche
  • Participated in worship services in two Wittenberg churches
  • Lodged at the Erfurt Augustinian Monastery, where Luther lived
  • Toured the first Protestant university in Marburg
  • Visited a medieval castle perched above the Rhine River
  • Relaxed on an afternoon cruise along the Rhine River
  • Toured the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz!


Wittenberg - Castle Church
Wittenberg’s Castle Church

2015 – Landscapes of British Civilization

Hadrian's Wall near Housesteads Roman Fort. Wikimedia Commons:
Hadrian’s Wall near Housesteads Roman Fort. Wikimedia Commons:

Dates: April 26 to May 10, 2015

Instructor/Guide: Kyle Jantzen

Countries: England


England is an immensely rich country in terms of history and heritage. On this trip, we explored sites from Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, and Norman England (with a few modern bits thrown in too), asking two key questions: First, how does British Civilization (as it came to be known) draw on elements from the history of ancient to medieval England? Second, how do those involved in preserving and interpreting British history make meaning from the many relics of the past which dot the countryside and mark the urban environment?


Photo courtesy Flickr user Ramón Cutanda López,
British Parliament. Photo courtesy Flickr user Ramón Cutanda López,

April 27-May 1 – London

In London, we went on a walking tour of the Westminster area, visited the British Museum, went to Evensong at St. Paul’s, visited the Imperial War Museum, dropped in on the National Gallery, toured Westminster Abbey, visited the Museum of London, dropped in on Christian Heritage London’s information centre, and watched Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre,

May 1-May 2 – Lincoln

Lincoln was a perfect half-way stop between London and Yorkshire, and the favourite stop for most of us on the trip. We stayed at a neat bed and breakfast near the old town centre, followed the old Roman Trail on a guided walking tour, and saw one of only four copies of the original Magna Carta, which was celebrating its 800th birthday in a new museum at the Lincoln Castle. The power of the Norman Conquest was very visible in Lincoln, with both the castle and cathedral built to celebrate and preserve Norman rule in central Britain. Guided tours of the Lincoln Cathedral floor and roof illustrated the marvel of medieval architecture and building, and a beautiful Evensong service reminded us of the power of worshipping where Christians have worshipped for over 1000 years.

May 2-May 5 – York

We arrived in York, where another spectacular cathedral gave witness to the power of the Norman Conquest and the steadfastness of English Christianity–both confirmed by tours of the cathedral and its tower. The ongoing vitality of the parish was evidenced in the sung Eucharist on Sunday morning, which was both welcoming and uplifting. Local medieval archeologist Garreth Dean guided us throughout the centre of York, showing us the layout of Roman York, explaining how the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings built adjacent to the old Roman settlement and how the Normans laid claim to both the Roman and Viking settlements through the construction of a new cathedral and two castles. Visits to Clifford’s Tower, the Yorkshire Museum, and the York Castle Museum rounded out our time in this important Roman, Viking, Christian, and Norman city.

May 5-May 6 – Scarborough

A short train ride took us from York to Scarborough, on the Yorkshire coast. Our hotel was on the Esplanade, overlooking the long Scarborough beach, the old town, and Scarborough Castle, which is situated on a rocky promontory. A Roman signal station, Christian settlement, Norman Castle, Civil War stronghold, and First World War battleground, Scarborough Castle illustrates the many layers of English history at one site. Following our time in Scarborough, a scenic drive took us to Whitby Abbey, Durham Castle, and Durham Cathedral (for our third Evensong service of the trip!), where we continued to witness the spiritual and political power of Christianity throughout English history.

May 6-May 10 – Newcastle

Our final stop, visiting Newcastle gave us the opportunity to learn more about Roman Britain. Visits to Corbridge Roman Town, Chesters Roman Fort, Housesteads Roman Fort, and Arbeia Roman Fort–all along Hadrian’s Wall–were complemented by visits to Aydon Castle, Hexham Abbey (an important link in the spread of Celtic Christianity into Northumbria), and St. Paul’s Monastery, Jarrow, where the Venerable Bede once lived and worked. Finally, we learned about the importance of Newcastle during the Industrial Revolution, and capped our trip with a visit to St. James’ Park, home of Newcastle United Football Club, where we watched the home side duel to a 1-1 tie with West Bromwich Albion.

2013 – Architecture of Power: Historical Castles, Churches, and Palaces from Paris to the German Rhineland

Rheinfels Castle Ruin, Sankt Goar, Germany. Picture by dm1795.

Dates: April 28 to May 13, 2013 (16 days)

Instructor/Guide: Kyle Jantzen

Countries: France and Germany


This trip and associated history course (300-level) was designed to immerse students into the world of medieval and early modern European royal and religious architecture. Famous as tourist sites today, the castles, churches, and palaces of France and Germany were long sites of political, military, social, and (not least) religious power. This study trip explored how and why these buildings were constructed, and considered their meaning in comparative light—not least by contrasting the central authority of the French Empire at its height with the local and regional rivalries of the Rhineland under the Holy Roman Empire. In between, 10 Ambrose students experienced firsthand the realities of medieval castle building in a unique immersion experience in the forests of Burgundy.


Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Picture by Zuffe.

April 29-May 3 – Paris and region

Our five days in Paris and area were jam-packed with tours of world-class historical and architectural sites of Paris: the Notre Dame Cathedral (including crypt and tower), the Arch de Triomphe (with its rooftop terrace), the Musée de l’Armée (with its history of armory and Napoleon’s tomb), the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower (all those steps!), the Palace of Versailles (just outside the city), and the Musée Cluny (French national museum of the Middle Ages). We also made a day trip to the city of Reims in order to visit the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, the Saint-Remi Basilica, and the Tau Museum, with relics dating back to Emperor Charlemagne (9th century).

May 4-May 9 – Saint Sauveur-en-Puisaye, France

Working at Guédelon medieval castle. Picture by unknown.

We stayed five nights in this tiny village in Burgundy, located about 200 km southeast of Paris. In contrast to the busyness of Paris, in rural France time seemed to stand still. Here we immersed ourselves in the Middle Ages, as we helped build a medieval castle in the heart of the forest. This was a one-of-a-kind hands-on experience which taught us much about medieval architecture, construction, and everyday life, as we built walls and floors, quarried and trimmed rock, mixed mortar, cut and installed roofing shingles, worked clay and made tiles, dug gardens, and chopped wooden bowls.

For more information and to see a neat introductory video, see the official Guédelon site @

May 9-13 – Sankt Goar, Germany

After our castle-building adventure, we stayed four nights in the village of Sankt Goar, Germany, nestled in the midst of  a stretch of 40 medieval castles and fortresses along a 65 km section of the Rhine River. Sankt Goar itself dates back to the Roman period, but was named after Saint Goar, who arrived in 550 and founded a Christian hostel for poor people and travellers along the Rhine. Sankt Goar is dominated by Rheinfels Castle, which was built by local counts in the 1200s. From Sankt Goar we spent two days visiting numerous nearby castles, churches, and Rhine towns, on foot, by train, by ferry, and on the Rhine cruise ships that float up and down the river between Mainz and Koblenz. Our time in Germany included a day trip to Mainz, where we visited the Gutenberg Museum (dedicated to the invention of the printing press and the printer of Bibles), the massive Mainz Cathedral, and attended a German Bundesliga soccer match between Mainz 05 and Borussia Moenchengladbach. It was a full-blown immersion into the lively culture of German soccer.

Rheinfels Castle, overlooking Sankt Goar (the Youth Hostel is in the bottom left of the picture). Picture by unknown.

For more information on the Middle Rhine region (with links to towns, castles, and churches on the left hand side), see the UNESCO World Heritage site @


Hall of Mirrors. Palace of Versailles. Photo (cc) via Wikimedia Commons contributor Myrabella,
Guédelon in July 2011. Picture by PicMirandole.
Sankt Goar from Rheinfels castle. Photo by jeroen20.

2011 – Classical and Christian Roots of Western Civilization: Greece and Rome

Group shot at the Colosseum!

In May 2011 our group of 14 students and guests travelled to Italy and Greece. We visited Rome, Tivoli, Florence, Olympia, Athens, and Corinth. In between was a wonderful day of relaxation on a Mediterranean cruise ship.

Each day included many “Wow!” moments, from the Colosseum, Castel Sant’Angelo, and Sistine Chapel in Rome to the Accademia and Duomo in Florence, Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este in Tivoli, and famous Greek sites like Ancient Olympia, Corinthian temples, and the Athenian Parthenon. We even stood on windy Mars Hill, where the Apostle Paul preached the gospel and debated with Greek philosophers. Every day someone exclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m in …!” and as one student put it, “All of the sites we visited were amazing, and I could relist them all and count them as favourites.” Still, the most amazing was probably Florence, Italy, home of the Renaissance. Perhaps it was the fact that our hotel was a refurbished stone residence with a medieval tower, or that palaces, cathedrals, markets, and gelato shops were right around the corner!

Up on the Athenian Acropolis, where the Parthenon sits.

It was interesting to see how Roman government, Greek philosophy and art, and early Christianity interacted with one another. We were especially moved to see how important both early and Renaissance Christianity were in the shaping of Western culture. As one student put it, “Being able to visit the various ancient catacombs and burial sights of the Early Church martyrs and Fathers was incredible. I felt spiritually refreshed when I returned.”

Florence from our hotel, a medieval residence with a tower overlooking the old city.

2009 – In the Footsteps of the Reformers: Germany and Switzerland

Following in the footsteps of the Protestant Reformation, our group of eight flew to Berlin, then travelled by train to Wittenberg, Erfurt, Eisenach, Mainz, Worms, Heidelberg, Basel, Zurich, and Geneva. Our goal was to understand how (and where) reformers like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin renewed and revived Christianity in Germany and Switzerland, transforming their societies through the power of the Word of God.

On the streets of Wittenberg, home of the Reformation.

Along the way we visited many important historical sites from medieval castles to the Berlin Wall. In Berlin, we visited Checkpoint Charlie, the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, and climbed to the top of the Berlin Cathedral. In Wittenberg, we explored Martin Luther’s house, lingered at the Castle Church where Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door, and attended an organ concert in the City Church where Luther preached regularly. Next we travelled to Erfurt, where we lodged in the Augustinian Monastery where Luther lived and studied, and made a day trip to Eisenach to attend church where the Bach family once played organ and to hike up to the Wartburg Castle, Luther’s hideout during the Reformation.

The cloister inside the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, where we stayed.

As we travelled into south Germany and Switzerland, we floated past romantic castles along the Rhine River and toured majestic cathedrals in Mainz and Worms, standing in the place where Luther once defied the leaders of the Roman Church and the German Empire for the sake of the gospel. We saw castle ruins, a student “jail”, and more churches (with towers to climb!), as we learned how tumultuous the Reformation could be as the new gospel teachings spread from church to church and neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

Our trip ended at the massive Reformation wall in Geneva, dedicated to the legacy of John Calvin and the Reformed tradition in Switzerland, Scotland, and Holland.

Rest break on the lovely hike up tto the Wartburg Castle, where Martin Luther hid during the Reformation.

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