The Grand Tourist Francis Basset, by Pompeo Batoni, 1778
William Beckford's Grand Tour through Europe shown in red.
The Grand Tour was the name of travel through Europe by rich European (mostly British) young men between 1660 until about 1840. It was done to learn about European society and art. The idea was that what they learned on their travels could be used to help those that stayed at home. Italy was often the final country to visit. They would mostly travel with servants and a teacher called a bear-leader.
Example Grand Tour
Which places the Grand Tour would visit changed through the years. An example would be a British tourist would go from Dover, England and crossed the English Channel to Ostend, in the Spanish Netherlands/Belgium, or Calais, or Le Havre in France.
There they could rent or buy a carriage and travel to Paris. Or they could make the trip by boat, traveling up the Seine to Paris, or up the Rhine to Basel.
In Paris, the traveler could take lessons in French, dancing, fencing, and horse riding. Paris was popular because of the language and fashion of French high society.
From Paris he would go to Switzerland for a while, often to Geneva. From there the traveler would make a difficult crossing over the Alps into northern Italy.
Once in Italy the tourist would visit Turin, then might spend a few months in Florence. Other Grand Tourists would be in Florence to welcome him. A trip to Pisa then on to Padua, Bologna, and Venice.
Venice was seen as the most important place for Italian architecture, and was very important place to visit.
From Venice the traveler went to Rome to study the ruins of ancient Rome. Some travelers also visited Naples to study music. Naples was often the final destination before turning back.
From here the traveler went north through the Alps to the German-speaking parts of Europe. From there travelers visited Holland and Flanders before returning across the Channel to England.
Images for kids
Portrait of Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, on his Grand Tour with his physician Dr. John Moore and the latter's son John. A view of Geneva is in the distance where they stayed for two years. Painted by Jean Preudhomme in 1774.
Goethe in the Roman Campagna, by Johann Tischbein, 1787
William Beckford's 1780-1781 Grand Tour through Europe shown in red
A plate of the ruins of the Acropolis from Mark Twain's grand tour, a five-month 20,000 mile excursion of Europe, the Middle East, and the Holy Land satirized in his Innocents Abroad (1867)