Religious tourism and pilgrimage
Christian pilgrimage
“As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow.” (A. C. Benson)
Over the centuries, Christians the world over have set out to visit the cradle of their faith in Palestine or – as they reverently call it – the Holy Land. In the 19th century, the region, with its numerous sacred locations and cities – Jerusalem most important among them – formed part of the Ottoman Empire. Improved transport links and communications networks, as well as a favourable political climate and the relative tolerance of the Ottomans towards foreigners and religious minorities, now meant that the European faithful and visitors from elsewhere felt free to explore the region. According to their respective denomination, the purpose for the journey might vary from ritual pilgrimage to pious edification and contemplation. Indigenous Christian communities across the Middle East and North Africa, meanwhile, continued to maintain their own diverse traditions and they, too, would visit Palestine as well as many other spiritually significant places in the region.
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Religious tourism and pilgrimage

Islamic pilgrimage
Christian pilgrimage
Jewish pilgrimage
Chancel of the Church of St Helena

Published 1843

Sharjah Art Museum / Sharjah Museums Authority, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (Sharjah)

David Roberts; Louis Hague


The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, one of the foremost pilgrimage sites according to the Christian tradition, would have been a highlight on the itinerary of 19th-century European travellers to the Holy Land. As is typical of the work of the British artist David Roberts, he has exaggerated the proportions of the architecture in relation to the human figures, which appear dwarfed by the majesty and monumentality of the structures that surround them.

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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