‘Prophets of nature’

Romantic ideals of nature and their continuing relevance for tourism today

Authored by: Diana Barsham , Michael Hitchcock

The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and the Environment

Print publication date:  July  2012
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415582070
eBook ISBN: 9780203121108
Adobe ISBN: 9781136325564


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The idea that the natural environment provides a Romantic spectacle is so widely encountered in tourism that it is usually taken for granted. However, if you look back to the origins of this relatively modern industry it was not invariably the case. The forerunners of today’s tourists, specifically those engaged in the seventeenth to early nineteenth century Grand Tour, usually regarded nature with some trepidation and even awe, and this is particularly evident in the way they regarded some of the landscapes that they passed through on their way to their favoured destinations: Italy, southern France and Greece. One of the major barriers that these early tourists had to surmount was the Alps, particularly the Swiss part of this mountain range, as its passes, notably the St Gotthard, provided some of the few access points to Italy from northern Europe. During the Romantic Era, the Alps were seen as both a geographical and a cultural demarcation zone.

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