Visiting and “revisiting” the Orient
Revisiting the Orient in Europe – Orientalist architecture
Europe’s encounter with “the Orient” manifested itself most visibly and monumentally in architecture …
Europe’s encounter with “the Orient” – whether directly through the many travellers to the region who brought back stories, depictions, photos and “exotic” souvenirs, or indirectly, through journeys of the imagination triggered by them all – manifested itself in many different aspects of European culture, but most visibly and monumentally in architecture. Since the later 18th century and until the early 20th century, palaces and stately homes, pavilions, learned institutions, public baths, commercial buildings and numerous interiors were transformed into markers of Europe’s Orientalist obsession. Up to the later 19th century, projects of this sort seem to have been the result of somewhat isolated, personal initiatives – reflecting the aesthetic and intellectual tastes or preoccupations of their respective patrons – largely yielding from the political and social elite. Later, a number of magnates, public bodies and commercial companies commissioned structures that were variously influenced by the aesthetics of the East. Orientalist buildings in Europe represent a truly eclectic range of stylistic influences from ancient Egypt and the Islamic world, but also from India and even China. “Moorish”, “Mughal” and pan-Islamic styles came to the fore particularly in the later 19th century, with European countries concentrating mainly on styles immediately evocative of their intellectual or direct interaction with specific countries and cultures in the East.
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Visiting and “revisiting” the Orient

Revisiting the Orient in Europe – Orientalist architecture
Artists travelling in the “Orient”
Photos of the “Orient”
The Royal Pavilion


Brighton, United Kingdom, Public domain

Britain’s long-standing involvement with the Arab and Ottoman world and India led to a far-reaching fascination with all things “Eastern”. One of the more spectacular architectural manifestations of this trend is seen in the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, which George IV, Prince of Wales, commissioned John Nash to refurbish in the Orientalist style in 1822.

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Visiting and “revisiting” the Orient