Trading routes
Trading routes by land
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.
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Trading routes

Trading routes by land
Trading routes by water
Map of caravan routes


The British Library, London, United Kingdom

On the African continent there were several caravan routes that connected southern and central Africa with the Maghreb by crossing the Sahara, which separates these areas. Some of the trans-Saharan trade routes headed to ports situated on the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts of North Africa, which were trading hubs important for the commerce with Europe.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Trading routes
Important trading hubs
Financing trade