The political realities of the day and the rapid development of modern transport allowed tourism to expand exponentially in the 19th century. Many Europeans now found themselves able to live out their fascination with the “Orient” and to travel to the fabled places they had so far only been able to visit in their imagination. Wealthy individuals in the Middle East and North Africa, meanwhile, travelled farther across the region and also started to venture into Europe. Mostly, though, travel was not only for pleasure and relaxation, as might be the case today. In fact, many travellers had specific aims as they set off – educational, scientific, commercial, financial, religious or political, or indeed all of these. Once in the region, the tourists of the day made sure to record what they saw and secure an array of impressive souvenirs to take back home, as evidence of the “exotic” worlds and cultures they had managed to discover. Many travellers published books or sold pictures of their journey, thus fuelling further interest in the “exotic lands of the East”.


Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Istanbul, Turkey

Edmondo de Amicis


Constantinople was undoubtedly the foremost destination for European travellers to the region. With its multicultural, diverse population, its historic sites, the hustle and bustle of its markets and the unparalleled opportunities to network, the city compelled and fascinated those who visited. Many just passed through, but some – particularly artists and writers – lingered, or even stayed on for good.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Royal and diplomatic visits
Religious tourism and pilgrimage
Exploration and research
Visiting and “revisiting” the Orient