The Grand Tour

Giovanni Battista Piranesi



Travelling these days is pretty easy – download an app, or use a website to book some plane or train tickets, and theoretically, in a few hours, we can be in a far-off land absorbing all the unique cultural elements of one’s destination. 

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In the 18th century, before the spread of the railway systems and tourism, one means of accessing this kind of experience was done so through educational journeys sometime referred to as The Grand Tour.      

The educational trips were mainly for men in the upper echelons of society, but some women also traveled.  

The purpose of the trip was to gain knowledge about other cultures, and for many, travelling to Greece and Italy was the ultimate goal in a hope to understand ancient Greece and the Roman Empire through seeing and experiencing ancient remains.  

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Young men, from Northern Europe and Great Britain in particular, but also the USA and Russia, participated in traveling out into the world.  

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The journeys could be very difficult with carriages breaking down, storms, and even encountering highway robbers! Nevertheless, many travelogues testify to how exciting and educational the experiences were.  

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Around this time there was a lot of archaeological activity, and an infinite number of objects were brought to light after a long sleep. 

Large art collections, and church-owned art, were also studied by the young travelers. 

Many took souvenirs from the places they visited like smaller antique objects, and some of Piranesi's graphics were included in the luggage that returned home.