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The First Tourist

In the 15th century, Cyriacus of Ancona journeyed in search of the Mediterranean’s Classical past. In so doing, he laid the groundwork for the 18th-century Grand Tour and today’s cultural holidays, as Marina Belozerskaya explains.

Cyriacus' sketch of the Parthenon in Athens
Cyriacus' sketch of the Parthenon in Athens

Today we take it for granted that we travel around the world to admire the monuments of the past. We prepare for such trips by reading about what we are going to see, set out on the journey with a good idea of how we will get there and where we will stay and have a sense of what we will encounter on location. Cyriacus of Ancona (1391-1452), the first cultural tourist since antiquity, lacked these advantages when, in the first half of the 15th century, he sailed around the Mediterranean in search of the remains of Greek and Roman civilisations.

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