Grand Tour

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Grand Tour [ gʀɑtuːʀ (even] (French .; dt. Great Journey) Grand Tour , Cavaliersreise u. A. Educational Travel ) was the name given to a since the Renaissance mandatory travel of the sons of European nobility , and later the upper middle class , through Central Europe , Italy , Spain and also to the Holy Land . In a broader sense, the educational trips of adult members of the above-mentioned classes were also called this. In England in particular, the Grand Tour found a rich literary impact in the 18th century .

British connaisseurs in Rome, painting by James Russel, ca.1750
Picture gallery of ancient Rome, painting by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, 1757


The Grand Tour originally represented the end of education, it was supposed to give the traveler the “finishing touch”. In particular, the aristocrats sought out important European cities and visited monuments from antiquity , the Middle Ages and the Renaissance ; traveled through picturesque landscapes, but also spoke at European royal courts. They should get to know the culture and customs of foreign countries, gather new impressions and make useful connections for the future. The tour also served to deepen language skills and refine manners ; generally the acquisition of cosmopolitanism, status and prestige . For noble travelers in particular, it was also attractive to take lessons from French or Italian fencing masters and thereby deepen their knowledge of the weapons trade. Another unspoken goal was often to gain a certain amount of experience in erotic matters, sometimes also to initiate marriage opportunities.

Older travelers often had other motivations to deepen their education and broaden their horizons. Sometimes they hoped the milder climate of the European south would cure or alleviate diseases, for example the poet John Keats, who traveled to Italy in 1820 . Others, on the other hand, exchanged ideas with colleagues from their respective professions in foreign countries or carried out a wide range of research. The botanist John Ray, for example, attempted to compile a comprehensive list of foreign plants on his continental tour in the 1660s, while the baroque painter Jonathan Richardson created nothing less than a “complete catalog of all statues and paintings” in Holland and Italy at the beginning of the 18th century wanted to. The Grand Tours were often used to purchase art, for example by Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel .

Even if the majority of the travelers completing the Grand Tour were male, there were also a few women among them, such as Mariana Starke (1762-1838) or Lady Morgan Sidney Owenson (1776-1859).


Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton , on his Grand Tour with his doctor Dr. John Moore and his son John . The city of Geneva can be seen in the background . Painted by Jean Preudhomme , 1774

Visiting ancient sites in Italy had been a tradition in circles of artists and intellectuals since the late Middle Ages. The Grand Tour only experienced a real boom towards the end of the 17th century, when it became fashionable among the English nobility , comparable to an initiation rite, to send their offspring on a multi-year educational trip to the continent. It began during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England in the 16th century. Most of the young men between 17 and 21 years of age, accompanied by a tutor , and with generous financial support from the family, set off to the continent and across Europe to broaden their horizons, to visit ancient buildings and monuments, but also to to be introduced to the high school of diplomacy. One stopped mainly with relatives, and quite a few successfully went on this occasion to look for a bride. This great fashion from England soon found acceptance in other countries.

In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, the social circle of travelers expanded to include the bourgeoisie. A wealthy bourgeois Englishman made at least a short trip to the mainland. Similar to today's travel guides, advice and travel diaries for the Grand Tour gave recommendations about the route, discussed sights, customs, the necessary clothing, the pharmacy and reading material, and noted important sentences and words in foreign languages ​​as help. On site, travel and mountain guides took on the young people who kept personalized reference books. A separate service sector developed around the travelers .

Most of the population did not have the financial means to travel grand tour style. Citizens could afford to travel by horse or carriage. Most of the people still walked . The travel conditions had hardly improved since the Middle Ages.

The pioneering role of England is explained, among other things, by the fact that, after defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588 , the country was on the way to becoming a world power - only comparable to that of the Roman Empire. Unlike the continent, it did not suffer the effects of the Thirty Years War . Additionally finally comes that the ideal of the gentleman , so the education zealous, wealthy, but often idle -politikfernen Gentry -Angehörigen was only to be found there.

The Grand Tour experienced a significant boom in the middle of the 18th century. In the course of the Enlightenment , the interest in foreign cultures and people, their living conditions and surroundings increased. In addition, the desire to travel was aroused by reports of world travel and travel literature .

The decline of the nobility after the French Revolution also corresponded to that of the Grand Tour in the classical sense. In the 19th century it was replaced by the educational trip, which pursued similar goals, but was associated with far less effort and organizationally mostly in the hands of the - now often older - traveler himself.



The implementation of the Grand Tour involved all kinds of formalities. For example, passports and health certificates had to be procured - often in large quantities, especially in Italy and Germany , due to the small number of states , which resulted in considerable costs. Since foreign exchange was only allowed to be exported from England to a limited extent, money had to be deposited with Italian banks in London, which could be received in Italy on presentation of appropriate payment instructions.

Members of the European aristocracy and especially the princes of ruling houses often undertook their grand tours incognito for security reasons . In 1687, for example, August the Strong traveled to Italy as Count of Meißen .

Travel companion

Dr. James Hay as “bear-leader”, etching by Pier Leone Ghezzi , 1725

The selection of a travel companion (tutor, governor, "bear-leader"), who had to have organizational talent, education and extensive language skills, but above all the prudence and maturity to protect his young protégé against physical, financial and moral ones, was of central importance To preserve dangers of all kinds. A well-known tutor was Thomas Hobbes , who with great pleasure accompanied the son of Lord Cavendish in 1610 and the son of the Earl of Devonshire on their Grand Tours in 1634. Particularly wealthy families joined their offspring in addition to the tutor and other staff, which could include doctors, art experts, servants, painters and musicians. When young ladies of high society to Italy traveled to form, was an unmarried aunt or cousin as a chaperone ( "chaperon") necessarily so.

Literature, maps

Finally, it was necessary to consult the travel guide literature, which was already available in relatively large numbers in the 18th century . It is estimated that an average of two new works appeared each year. The most important were Maximilien Misson , Nouveau Voyage d'Italie (1691/95), Joseph Addison , Remarks on the Several Parts of Italy (1705), Richard Lassels , The Voyage of Italy (1670), Thomas Nugent , The Grand Tour, or, a Journey through the Nederlands, Germany, Italy and France (1749), Jêrome Lalande , Voyage d'un Francois en Italie (1769), Thomas Martyn , The Gentleman's Guide in His Tour through Italy: with a Correct Map and Directions for Traveling in this Country (1777) and Joseph Forsyth , Remarks on Antiquities, Arts and Letters during an excursion in Italy (1813).

It was not easy to obtain suitable and reliable maps . In the countries visited, it was often not even available in large cities. The cards bought in England, however, often had considerable errors and inadequacies. A widespread collection was Il portafoglio necessario a tutti quelli che fanno il giro d'Italia , which was published in London in 1774 with English inscription.


In addition, it was necessary to obtain stable and durable equipment that could withstand the rigors of long carriage rides and the sometimes rude treatment by servants and innkeepers. Also, a large number of everyday items such as bedding, cutlery, crockery, writing and painting utensils, sewing kits, body care products and medicines had to be brought from England due to their uncertain availability at their destinations, which explains the cavaliers' extensive baggage inventory like the emergence of space-saving toilet cases . It was even recommended that you bring weapons and mosquito nets with you .

There are reports of eccentrics like the hunting enthusiast Thornton , who u. a. went on the Grand Tour with ten horses, one hundred and twenty sniffer dogs and three falcons supervised by their own falconer, or Lady Blessington , who in her double-sprung carriage herself couldn’t miss the toilet, kitchen and library. Lord Byron even traveled with a small zoo, divided into several escort cars, which was supposed to serve as food and entertainment for him.


There was no fixed route, but cities and sites that were visited particularly often emerged. There were “compulsory stations” that had to be visited, while on the other hand places that were not generally known and not widely praised for their cultural significance were mostly left behind. There was only limited room for individual deviations.


For the British aristocrat, the Grand Tour usually began at the ports of the southern English Channel coast , where he embarked for Boulogne or Calais and from there traveled relatively quickly by stagecoach to Paris because of its magnificent buildings , traditionally the first long stay on the voyage. The rest of the way led mostly via Burgundy and Lyon (the silk city), then either to Provence and to Marseille or Nice , or to the glaciers on Mont Blanc near Chamonix in the Alps , which are preferred on the Simplon Pass (Switzerland-Italy) or on Mont Cenis were crossed, which was often perceived as an initiation rite. Because of the dangers involved, crossing the Alps was often unpopular or even feared, especially among early Grand Tour travelers.


Vedute of Florence
by Giuseppe Zocchi (1711–1767)

Relatively little attention was then paid to the cities of Turin , Milan and Genoa , rather the travelers quickly headed for Florence . In the city, traditionally valued by the British because of the intellectual rigor of its architecture, its art treasures, but also the rational sophistication of the surrounding landscape, people used to stay for a while. The other cultural cities of Tuscany such as Siena , Pisa and Lucca were usually visited. Rome and Naples were almost a must .

In Rome the cavaliers usually spent the winter months in order to be able to devote themselves extensively to visiting the ancient monuments, museums and churches. The Roman carnival attracted great interest, to which Goethe was later to devote a large part of his notes.

The stretch between Rome and Naples , where diseases and brigands lurked, was considered dangerous . In Campania one visited the picturesque cliffs, the offshore islands of Capri and Ischia , but above all Vesuvius and, since 1763, the ruins of Pompeii at its foot . Some travelers finally made a detour to Sicily , where the main focus was on ancient excavations and climbing Mount Etna .

On the way back we mostly passed Rome and Florence again, but then the route ran a little further to the east than on the outward journey. They headed for Padua and especially Venice , the Veneto and Vicenza , where Palladio's villas were a must. The Alps were traditionally crossed on the Brenner .

Holy Roman Empire

In the German-speaking countries, princely and royal cities were mostly on the program. The imperial city of Vienna was valued for its theater, riding schools and hospitality. In addition, Berlin and Weimar were particularly popular as “focal points of the Enlightenment”, but also Munich and Mannheim . University cities such as Heidelberg , Jena and Leipzig as well as the large baths such as Baden-Baden , Karlsbad and Marienbad were also frequently visited . For the English travelers, the Austrian countries were not a separate item on the program, they were just a transit area in which one did not stay long.

The Rhine was an attraction in Germany . The traveler found relaxation in Spa and Aachen . The travelers recorded their impressions in reports and letters. Through their evaluation it became known that there was agreement that the roads in Germany were by far the worst, the postillions the most unfriendly and outrageous and the furnishings in the rural inns and hostels were poor. The private hospitality, however, was praised. One problem was the borders, the many small and changing domains and the various currencies associated with them , as well as the numerous dialects that were difficult to understand, especially for foreigners.


In the Netherlands, the old universities and the birthplace of Erasmus of Rotterdam were the main destinations. After crossing the Holland, which is praised for its cleanliness, relatively quickly, one embarked back home. The trip was rarely done in reverse order, with the Germanic-speaking countries at the beginning and France at the end.


In the 18th century, Switzerland was only an obligatory stage on the journey to Italy. Because of the dangerous crossing of the Alps, crossing Switzerland was unpopular and feared. However, towards the end of the 18th century, Switzerland itself became a travel destination. The beauty of the landscape and the Alps attracted travelers. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Grand Tour was replaced by tourism in Switzerland, and the aristocrats gave way to bourgeois tourists.

Based on the Grand Tour of the 18th century, the Grand Tour of Switzerland tourist route was launched in 2015 .



The accommodations at the post stations were considered inexpensive, but mostly uncomfortable to shabby . Sometimes they went little beyond a stable with straw sacks for sleeping and a general fireplace. The post station in Radicofani on the heavily frequented Via Francigena was particularly notorious .

In addition, there was a large selection of upscale accommodations available near the post offices and main streets as well as in the city centers. The simpler boarding houses , inns and hostels offered at least other services such as food and laundry in addition to bare beds. Expensive houses such as the hotels and inns in the big cities, however, often pampered their noble guests with the comfort they are familiar with at home: Canopy beds and Chinese porcelain on the vanity could be found here, as well as venison served on pewter plates and fine wines.

Finally, some grand tourists were accepted into private homes on presentation of appropriate letters of recommendation . In general, however, this option was reserved for members of the highest circles who had a comprehensive “network”.

"Garnished bed"

In addition to the bed, the landlords often offered travelers a companion for the same at an additional cost; The conditions in Venice were considered particularly extreme, where matchmakers and whores practically imposed their services on strangers. Often the opportunity was gratefully taken - especially since collecting erotic experiences was definitely one of the unspoken goals of the Grand Tour.


At least in the simpler accommodations, the rooms generally had no lockable doors, which posed a considerable threat to travelers and their belongings from thieves. In contemporary travel literature there is often a recommendation to bring a sturdy lock from home.


The generally inadequate hygienic conditions in the accommodations represented a major problem . If bed linen was available, it was mostly dirty, and fleas , bed bugs and lice were often found in the mattresses and pillows .

Many travelers therefore brought their own bedding, pillows, blankets and sheets, but sometimes also a full camp bed . Often the travel kits mentioned also contained a number of substances intended to kill the parasites, sulfuric acid and various essential oils such as lavender essences were particularly common.

The means of transport: the carriage

Tischbein : Return of the Counts Stadion from a gentlemanly journey
Changing horses at the Italian post office
Painting by Heinrich Bürkel (1802–1869)

While in the 16th and 17th centuries the Grand Tours - for example by John Milton 1638 - were partly undertaken on horseback, in the 18th century the carriage established itself as a means of transport. Eccentrics like Thomas Coryat , Joshua Lucock Wilkinson or Johann Gottfried Seume (“Walk to Syracuse”) who traveled to Italy on foot must be seen as exceptions.

Own, rental or stagecoach

When traveling by carriage, the traveler had three alternatives:

  • Many aristocrats used their own coach for the Grand Tour, which was often so lavishly furnished that it replaced their own home in many ways. The main disadvantage was, of course, the higher customs fees incurred with this mode of transport.
  • Rental carriages were available in the French ferry ports as well as in every major European city on the continent. A coachman was usually included in the rent, and a courier for larger salaries . His task consisted of galloping ahead to the next post office in order to prepare the change of horses and possibly the taking of quarters in order to save the traveler time. Occasionally he also acted as a travel guide and prudent mediator who opened doors that were otherwise closed to his clients.
  • After all, stagecoaches offered comparatively little comfort; you also had to share it with other fellow travelers. In return, they had considerable privileges over other vehicles at the post stations when they were given out horses.


The carriages usually offered space for four to eight people, sometimes with additional emergency seats or outdoor platforms for accompanying personnel. Because of the very poor condition of the roads and paths in many places, great importance was attached to comfortable leaf suspension , which should absorb the worst vibrations and shocks. A well-stocked toolbox could not be missing ; it was also used to dismantle and assemble the carriage before crossing the Alps or rivers. Occasionally, additional harnesses were brought along in order to be able to harness additional draft horses on steep inclines.

The heavier and bulky items of luggage were usually placed on the back of the rather spacious so-called footboard and lashed with heavy chains. Lighter parts found space on the carriage roof, the imperial , which was secured with a railing . The tool box, and sometimes the dogs that were carried along, were transported in nets under the floor of the car. Higher-quality, especially private carriages had additional luggage space, often also numerous secret compartments for valuables, for example behind the velvet covering of the interior.


Because of the bad roads, even in the most comfortable carriages, the travelers were exposed to constant bumps and rumbling, which in the long run had an extremely stressful effect on their physical condition. The situation was exacerbated by the long journey times. This was due to the low cruising speed of seldom more than 20 km / h, but also to the lack of bridges and the need, at least until the beginning of the 19th century, to dismantle the carriage before crossing the Alps in order to return it across the mountains assemble.


There were always carriage accidents on the Grand Tours . The main cause was the often bad roads in Italy, but especially in Germany. Particularly when extreme weather conditions came on, they led to the breakage of the suspension, the wheels and the axle or to the tearing of the suspension belt. Sometimes the whole carriage overturned, as happened to Dominique Vivant Denon, who later became director of the Louvre near Brindisi , in 1778 .

Sometimes, however, the accidents were due to the driver's lack of knowledge or experience, or the horses' lack of suitability. Tobias Smollett even reports of stable boys who, in revenge for refused tips, deliberately did not neuter him in 1764 and therefore put particularly boisterous horses behind them, which soon caused an accident.


It is reported that the traveling carriages were also victims of muggers , although the number and severity of the incidents appear considerably exaggerated and in many cases should only serve as material for boastful travel reports. The main Italian routes, especially the area between Fondi and Terracina, were particularly dangerous . There, however, the “brigands” were primarily targeting wealthy local merchants and less foreign cultural travelers.

Problems with authorities

Many grand tourists also report of corrupt customs officials who only allow rapid clearance and onward travel for a reasonable fee . Occasionally the travelers were also suspected of espionage, especially when - as was the fashion at the time - they worked as draftsmen or painters and made sketches of buildings. The best-known example is Goethe , who was arrested in Malcesine in 1786 for precisely this reason .

In times of plague in particular , travelers were often quarantined by the local authorities, regardless of any health certificates they were carrying . This happened around Rousseau in 1743 in the port of Genoa . In his confessions he reports of a time-consuming and monotonous forced stay in a whitewashed and completely unfurnished hospital .

Cultural impact on travelers' home countries

The impressions that the travelers brought home from their stays in Italy were intended to have a wide range of effects on the cultural life of their home countries:


The Grand Tours, which became increasingly fashionable in the 18th century, made a significant contribution to the ultimate breakthrough of classicism in the architecture of England and other European countries. Significant impulses came from the Society of Dilettanti , founded in London in 1732 , in which Grand Tour returnees met once a month to exchange ideas.

The creations of Palladio aroused particular interest among travelers . His Villa Rotonda in Vicenza alone has been copied several times in England. The most famous example is Chiswick House, begun in 1729 by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington . But also the later Georgian style and the Regency would hardly be conceivable without Italian influences. In Germany, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Johann Joachim Winckelmann , in particular, brought with them ideas from their trips to Italy, which they incorporated into their classicist creations.

Finally, Romanesque churches in Northern Italy were also copied. In Salisbury , for example, there is an imitation of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona . Westminster Cathedral in London takes up style elements from Ravennes churches. The water features of the Villa d'Este in Tivoli , which were imitated in Salzburg's Hellbrunn Palace or in the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe near Kassel, were also very popular.


The Grand Tours also led to cultural imports in the field of painting: Central importance was attached to the French Claude Lorrain , whose characteristic connection between classical buildings and romantic, picturesque landscape was to shape English taste throughout the 18th century. His style was imitated by numerous English painters, including Richard Wilson . At the height of enthusiasm for the painter, special " Claude glasses " were even developed , optical devices that bring the landscape under observation closer together and immerse it in "romantic" semi-darkness. Lorrain's conception of nature should also have an impact on the so-called English landscape garden . Titian and Raffael also influenced English painting .


After all, the Italian influences in European music north of the Alps can be attributed to a large extent to the musicians' trips to Italy. Here it is in particular composers from German-speaking countries who received the style of the then leading music nation Italy and established the genre of opera developed there in their homeland.

While Heinrich Schütz , Georg Friedrich Händel and Gluck , for example , settled permanently on the peninsula for several years to learn from the luminaries of their time, the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's three trips to Italy between 1769 and 1772 definitely have features of the Grand Tour. His encounters with great musicians such as Martini , Sammartini , Piccini , Nardini and Paisiello were particularly influential .

Numerous composers also traveled to Italy in the 19th century. Examples include Hector Berlioz , who himself addresses the subject of the Grand Tour in his work Harold en Italie , and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy , who wrote his Italian Symphony three years after his Grand Tour . The stay in Italy left less traces in the oeuvre of Richard Wagner , who rather influenced contemporary Italian music with his style of music. Conversely, composers often took up “Italian” motifs who had not completed a Grand Tour themselves and only knew the country secondhand, such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky ( Capriccio Italy ) or Hugo Wolf (Italian songbook) .

Well-known Grand Tours

  • The historical forerunners of the Grand Tour include Michel de Montaigne's trip to Italy from 1580–1581, which, in contrast to earlier pilgrimages, was for the first time purely secular. Of course, he did it at a more mature age and also for health reasons.
  • The cavalier journey of Prince Karl Friedrich von Jülich-Kleve-Berg from 1571 to 1575 ended tragically with the smallpox death of the protagonist in Rome. She became known through the travelogue Hercules Prodicius from the pen of the prince's mentor, Stephanus Winandus Pighius . This report served as a thread of Ariadne for subsequent grand tourists .
  • The father of the Grand Tour in the narrower sense is often referred to as Thomas Coryat , who set out on foot for Italy in 1608 and visited Venice there in particular . He recorded his memories in the travelogue Coryat's crudities of 1611.
  • In 1638 the poet John Milton went on his Grand Tour. His encounter with the great epics of Italian literature was to have a lasting impact on his main work, Paradise Lost .
  • The English priest and travel writer Richard Lassels (1603–1668) was the first to use the expression "Grand Tour" in 1670 when describing his five trips to Italy, The Voyage of Italy ; Without comment as English pronounced name of the French words for "great journey".
  • 1739–1741, the later writers Horace Walpole and Thomas Gray went on a grand tour, but fell out so much during the trip that they returned to England separately.
  • Laurence Sterne completed his trip to the continent from 1762–1766 when he was already around fifty years old. She was to have a significant influence on his works Tristram Shandy and especially Yorick's sentimental journey through France and Italy .
  • James Boswell , the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson , traveled through Europe as a young man and student from 1763 to 1765 as far as Rome and Corsica, but here too, according to his nature, he was primarily looking for well-known contemporaries and met Rousseau , Voltaire and Pasquale Paoli .
  • Around the same time Tobias Smollett traveled to Italy, who ultimately stayed there permanently for health reasons and died in 1772. In 1766 his travelogue travels through France and Italy was published
  • The French astronomer Jérôme Lalande used his trip to Italy in 1765/66 a. a. about this, with Pope Clement XIII. to use for a deletion of the writings of his professional colleagues Copernicus and Galilei from the index . He also published the famous travelogue Voyage d'un français en Italie in 1769 .
Goethe in the Campagna, painting by JHWTischbein from 1787
  • In 1765/66, Prince Leopold III. von Anhalt-Dessau on his Grand Tour. In Naples he met the diplomat and art collector William Hamilton , which was to have a particular influence on the design of the Stein Island in Wörlitzer Park .
  • Undoubtedly the most famous Italian traveler in the German countries was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , who toured his " Arcadia " from 1786 to 1788 and recorded his impressions in the Italian journey .
  • On the other hand, the Grand Tour Johann Gottfried Herders 1788/89, who was critical and distant about the “carefree sensuality” of the south, was rather annoying . The trip was also overshadowed by financial difficulties, professional imponderables and a number of mishaps.
  • In 1801 Johann Gottfried Seume set out from Grimma in Saxony and hiked as far as Sicily. According to his own admission, he wanted to study " Theocritus " there. In contrast to his aristocratic predecessors, his travelogue Walk to Syracuse notes very precisely the social and political circumstances of the countries visited.
  • From 1807–1810 Hermann von Pückler-Muskau traveled to Italy - the prelude to an unsteady wandering life that would later lead the prince to Abyssinia .
  • Lord Byron's Grand Tour 1809–1811 is a special case: Because of the Napoleonic wars, he had to avoid the classic travel destinations and therefore increasingly turned to the eastern Mediterranean region with Greece and Turkey. In the 1820s he made up the visit to Italy and stayed u. a. in Venice and Pisa.
  • In 1830 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy traveled to Italy; three years later he wrote his Italian Symphony .
  • Hector Berlioz traveled to Italy in 1831 after winning the Prix ​​de Rome and thus a two-year Rome scholarship the previous year. His stay left traces in his symphony Harold en Italie , his opera Benvenuto Cellini , his overture Le carnaval romain , but above all in his travelogue Voyage musical en Allemagne et en Italie from 1844.
  • Hans Christian Andersen stayed in Rome for the first time in October 1834. He traveled to Italy from Denmark seven times - by carriage, train and ship, the journeys left deep traces in his work.
  • Richard Wagner's stay in Italy in 1852 left relatively few traces in his work. However, Richard Wagner claims that the sight of Assunta Tizians in Venice in 1861 inspired his “Mastersingers of Nuremberg”. (In fact, this work by Wagner is full of hidden religious allusions)
  • Hermann Hesse, on the other hand, who toured the country extensively in 1901 and 1903, recorded his impressions many times in poems, letters and diaries.
  • Steffen Kopetzky's novel “Grand Tour or The Night of the Great Complication” (2002) describes a trip to Europe with the sociological reference system “ sleeping car ”. He makes extensive direct and indirect references to the Grand Tours of the past.

Decline in importance of the Grand Tour

Englishmen in the Campagna , watercolor by Carl Spitzweg , ca.1845

In the 19th century, the Grand Tour experienced a collapse when the classicist cultural ideals of the nobility were increasingly being supplanted by romantic ideas. The worship of antiquity, humanism and Renaissance architecture was replaced by enthusiasm for Gothic and the European Middle Ages. Authors such as Walter Scott , poets such as William Wordsworth or Samuel Coleridge and painters such as William Blake , William Turner or John Constable played a decisive role in this development . The evidence of this historical and artistic epoch could be studied at least as well in England and Scotland as in southern Europe.

The final end of the Grand Tour in the classical sense was the decline in the importance of the nobility after the French Revolution . The growing bourgeoisie , of course, still largely shared the cultural ideals of the nobility and imitated their lifestyle and thus also the Grand Tour. With the advent of the railroad , however, travel became affordable for a wider segment of the population. As early as the middle of the 19th century, factory workers were able to afford a bathing holiday in English and northern French seaside resorts. The Grand Tour lost some of its exclusivity and therefore some of its appeal for its classic clientele. The Westminster Review wrote about 1825 disrespectfully that today a “mixture of all classes” gathers in Rome: “The first of our nobility and the last of our citizens meet and touch on every corner” . William Wordsworth and other writers even opposed further expansion of the railway network, since this mode of transport established a "dangerous tendency towards equality" and encouraged "the lower classes" to "travel uselessly through the country". Edward Morgan Forster set an ironic and loving memorial for the civic Grand Tour in 1908 in his novel Room with a View . The Grand Tour was increasingly being replaced by recreational trips of broader classes, which were finally to pass into mass tourism in the 20th century .

At the same time, traces of the Grand Tour can still be found where classicist ideals continue to have an effect: for example, the final trip to Rome remained compulsory well into the 20th century at German-language humanistic grammar schools and is occasionally, more often in Austria, also practiced today. The Prix ​​de Rome is an important career brand for composers in France ( Maurice Ravel applied five times to no avail), and a scholarship for the Villa Massimo is still an accolade of the art scene in Germany. American and Japanese travel activities in Europe to this day mainly follow the goals of the Grand Tour, as it is still the most likely way to get to the cultural roots of Europe. The term “Grand Tour” is still relevant as a catchphrase for the tourism industry .

See also


  • Gerhard Ammerer : Travel City Salzburg: Salzburg in travel literature from humanism to the beginning of the railway age . Archive u. Extra Office of the City of Salzburg, Salzburg 2003, ISBN 3-901014-81-0 .
  • Rainer Babel (Ed.): Grand Tour. Noble travel and European culture from the 14th to the 18th century . Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2005. ISBN 3-7995-7454-9 .
  • Eva Bender: The Prince's Journey. Educational stay and cavalier tour in a courtly context towards the end of the 17th century. (Writings on Residence History 6), Lukas-Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86732-101-3 .
  • Attilio Brilli: When traveling was an art - From the beginning of modern tourism: The “Grand Tour” . Wagenbach, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-8031-2274-0 .
  • Thoms Freller: Nobles on Tour , Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2006, ISBN 978-3-7995-0098-2
  • Wolfgang Griep (Ed.): Travel in the 18th century. New investigations . Winter, Heidelberg 1986. (Neue Bremer Contributions 3), ISBN 3-533-03846-7 .
  • Thomas Grosser: Travel and Social Elites. Cavalier tour - patrician tour - civic educational tour . In: Michael Maurer (ed.): New impulses in travel research . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-05-003457-2 , pp. 136–176.
  • Christoph Henning: Wanderlust - tourists, tourism and holiday culture . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1999, ISBN 3-518-39501-7 .
  • Joseph Imorde (Ed.): The Grand Tour in Modernism and Postmodernism . Niemeyer, Tübingen 2008. ISBN 978-3-484-67020-4 .
  • Hans-Joachim Knebel: The “Grand Tour” of the young aristocrat . In: Tourism - working texts for teaching . Reclam, Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-15-009564-6 ,
  • Gabriele M. Knoll: Cultural history of travel. From pilgrimage to beach vacation . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-534-17676-6 .
  • Petra Krempien: History of Travel and Tourism. An overview from the beginning to the present . FBV-Medien, Limburgerhof 2000, ISBN 3-929469-25-1 .
  • Thomas Kuster: The Italian travel diary of Emperor Franz I of Austria from 1819. A critical edition . Phil. Diss. Innsbruck 2004.
  • Mathis Leibetseder: Cavalier Tour - Educational Tour - Grand Tour: Travel, Education and Acquisition of Knowledge in the Early Modern Age . Böhlau, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-412-14003-1 (= supplements to the archive for cultural history , issue 56, edited by the Institute for European History (Mainz) , also dissertation at the TU Berlin 2002).
  • Hilmar Tilgner: Article Cavalier Tour . In: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit , Volume 6, Metzler, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-476-01996-7 , Sp. 523-526 (also on the term Grand Tour).
  • Martina Schattkowsky : Noble worlds in Saxony. Annotated image and written sources. Böhlau Verlag GmbH & Cie., Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-20918-6 . Essay by Kathrin Keller: Educational journey and court careers , p. 279

Web links

Commons : Grand Tour  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Kavalierstour  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ray, John, and Francis Willughby. 1673. Observations topographical, moral, & physiological made in a journey through part of the low-countries, Germany, Italy, and France: with a catalog of plants not native of England, found spontaneously growing in those parts, and their virtues. London: Printed for John Martyn. Online:
  2. See Petra Krempien: History of travel and tourism. An overview from the beginning to the present. FBV-Medien-Verlag, Limburgerhof 2000, pp. 90-93. See also: Gerhard Ammerer: Travel City Salzburg: Salzburg in travel literature from humanism to the beginning of the railway age. Archive and Statistical Office of the City of Salzburg, Salzburg 2003, pp. 9–11.
  3. a b cf. Petra Krempien: History of travel and tourism. An overview from the beginning to the present. FBV-Medien-Verlag, Limburgerhof 2000, p. 90.
  4. ^ German travelers in Paris in the 18th century. (PDF; 228 kB)
  5. Otto Hietsch: Austria and the Anglo-Saxon world. Braumüller, Vienna 1961, p. 69.
  6. a b Petra Krempien: History of travel and tourism. An overview from the beginning to the present. FBV-Medien Verlag, Limburgerhof 2000, p. 91f.
  7. Ariane Devanthéry: Swiss travel. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  8. Joseph Imorde, Jan Pieper (ed.): The Grand Tour in Modern and Post-Modern. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-484-67020-4 , p. 4.
  9. His attempt to be admitted to Frederick II failed, although he was traveling with Francis Keith , Lord Marischall of Scotland, who had been in Prussian diplomatic service. See: Boswell's Great Journey. Germany and Switzerland 1764 . Stuttgart, u. a. 1955
  10. Prince Leopold III. Franz von Anhalt. Anhalt 800, 1212–2012 ( Memento from March 29, 2017 in the Internet Archive ).
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on July 2, 2006 .