Studying and recording Cold War history can be an exciting journey of discovery. Visiting a place, having studied it using a textbook or the Internet, is what brings history alive.
Historians often visit a key site because it gives a sense of place, perspective and ambiance that is difficult to reconstruct from a distance. Standing in a particular location also enables you to make observations and pick out details which are not otherwise appreciated. This process is an important part of understanding history at a deeper level and why certain things were the way they were.
One example of this is a visit to the Berlin Wall. Only by standing next to the wall can you truly get a sense of its incredible height and how difficult it was to escape from East to West. You also get a sense of the isolation between East and West during the Cold War.
In some small way, people's experience touches us personally and becomes part of our experience of the past.
Another example of this is Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker in Essex. Behind its walls is another world, where on entering, you are instantly transported back in time, losing all sense of the current day. In visiting a site, history can often suddenly make sense, and that is also a significant reason for preserving our historic locations.