The Grand Tour



9 Questions

What was the primary value of the Grand Tour?

Which language was dominant among the European elite during the 17th and 18th centuries?

Which city was considered the cradle of the Protestant Reformation and was a popular destination for tourists during the Grand Tour?

Which famous author chronicled his Grand Tour experience in his highly popular satire Innocents Abroad?

Which art history series, presented by a British Carmelite nun, featured the Grand Tour?

Which country was not a popular destination for tourists during the Grand Tour?

Which famous novel makes reference to the Grand Tour?

Which city was not typically visited by tourists during the Grand Tour?

What was the typical duration of a Grand Tour?


The Grand Tour was a traditional trip through Europe, with Italy as a key destination, undertaken by upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank (typically accompanied by a tutor or family member) when they had come of age (about 21 years old). The tradition flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transport in the 1840s and was associated with a standard itinerary. The primary value of the Grand Tour lay in its exposure to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of the European continent. A Grand Tour could last anywhere from several months to several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a knowledgeable guide or tutor. The itinerary of the Grand Tour was not set in stone, but was subject to innumerable variations, depending on an individual's interests and finances, though Paris and Rome were popular destinations for most English tourists. Upon hiring a French-speaking guide, as French was the dominant language of the elite in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the tourist and his entourage would travel to Paris. There the traveller might undertake lessons in French, dancing, fencing, and riding. From Paris, he would typically sojourn in urban Switzerland, often in Geneva (the cradle of the Protestant Reformation) or Lausanne. Once in Italy, the tourist would visit Turin (and sometimes Milan), then might spend a few months in Florence, where there was a considerable Anglo-Italian society accessible to travelling Englishmen "of quality." From Venice, the traveller went to Rome to study the ancient ruins and the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture of Rome's Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Returning northward, the tourist might recross the Alps to the German-speaking parts of Europe, visiting Innsbruck, Vienna, Dresden, Berlin and Potsdam, with perhaps a period of study at the universities in Munich or Heidelberg. Published accounts of the Grand Tour provided illuminating detail and an often polished first-hand perspective of the experience.The Grand Tour: A Historical Tradition

  • Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Italian women were often documented during the Grand Tour, providing published accounts of encounters with them.
  • James Boswell recorded his relationships with Italian elite in his diary, sharing a part of history in his written accounts.
  • Lord Byron's letters to his mother with the accounts of his travels have also been published from the early 19th century.
  • Many tourists enjoyed sexual relations while abroad but to a great extent were well behaved, such as Thomas Pelham, and scholars, such as Richard Pococke.
  • Sir Francis Ronalds' journals and sketches of his 1818–20 tour to Europe and the Near East have been published online.
  • The letters written by sisters Mary and Ida Saxton of Canton, Ohio in 1869 while on a six-month tour offer insight into the Grand Tour tradition from an American perspective.
  • Mark Twain undertook a "grand tour" of Europe, the Middle East, and the Holy Land, which he chronicled in his highly popular satire Innocents Abroad in 1867.
  • Margaret Mitchell's American Civil War-based novel, Gone With The Wind, makes reference to the Grand Tour.
  • In 1998, the BBC produced an art history series Sister Wendy's Grand Tour presented by British Carmelite nun Sister Wendy.
  • In 2005, British art historian Brian Sewell followed in the footsteps of the Grand Tourists for a 10-part television series Brian Sewell's Grand Tour.
  • In 2009, the Grand Tour featured prominently in a BBC/PBS miniseries based on Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.
  • Kevin McCloud presented Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour on Channel 4 in 2009 with McCloud retracing the tours of British architects.


Test your knowledge on the historical tradition of the Grand Tour with our quiz! From the primary destinations to the cultural and societal values, this quiz covers it all. See if you can identify famous figures and their experiences, as well as published accounts and modern adaptations of the Grand Tour. Take the quiz and discover how much you know about this fascinating aspect of European history.

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