Tourism of the second half of the nineteenth century
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” (Mark Twain)
The introduction of steamers, railways, modern roads and telegraphs revolutionised travel to the East. The journey became an increasingly more comfortable and reliable exercise, which could be scheduled fairly precisely, and without the fears of strife and conflict that had marred journeys to many areas of the Mediterranean previously. By the 1840s, regular shipping lines plied the Mediterranean between Europe, Greece, the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. By the late 19th century, intricate railway networks connected Eastern Europe with Constantinople and other key areas in the Arab and Ottoman and North African regions. In the cities themselves, tramways proliferated, joined by automobiles in the early 1920s. Western-style hotels and lodgings appeared in Constantinople, Bilad al-Sham, the Holy Land and Egypt. From the 1840s, travel agencies sprung up, offering organised group holidays at all-inclusive prices. The pioneer of the “holiday package” was British entrepreneur Thomas Cook (b. 1808–d. 1892), whose introduction of “mass” tourism to the Levant and Egypt from the late 1860s was based on visits to ancient, classical and religious sites. Cook’s Tours included accommodation in suitable hotels, dragomans (translators), military escorts and imported provisions. Early modern tourism had an invigorating effect on local industries, but also posed many social and cultural challenges.
More about

Tourism of the early nineteenth century
Tourism of the second half of the nineteenth century
Travelling equipment
Bayt al-Barudi steamship murals, Damascus

Mural in the main reception hall of the Barudi House at the quarter of Qanawat


Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, State Museums, Berlin, Germany

The 1830s saw the first steamship cruises in the Mediterranean. Ten years later, regular steamer lines for mail and passengers connected Europe with ports in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa.

See Database entry for this item


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