Crucial to the trade between Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world in the 19th century was the onward transport of imported or exported goods within each region. In the Middle East, North Africa and Europe this was mainly done by land.
Before the construction of railways and modern roads in the late 19th century, overland trade in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe was largely conducted by means of merchant caravans travelling on long-established routes. Complex networks of trade routes existed within each region and interregionally, with some designed specifically to feed into ports around the Mediterranean. In the Asian part of the Ottoman Empire, the main caravan route went from Istanbul to Baghdad via Bursa, Konya, Adana and Aleppo – each in turn entrepôts for other destinations. From Baghdad goods also continued to Basra and even further, across the Arab-Persian Gulf. In North Africa the ports on the Mediterranean coast connected the northern ends of trans-Saharan trade routes with trading hubs all over Europe including the south-east. From here, several trade routes continued to Ottoman Istanbul’s European part, passing through trading hubs such as Vienna, Buda, Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Bucharest, Sofia and Salonika.