Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz)
The corpus of the so-called European Travels comprises an unconnected series of excursions from the years 1790-1805, which preceded or directly followed the research trip through the American tropics (1799–1804).
Alexander von Humboldt's first preserved travel journal was written in 1790 during his journey to England, where he was accompanied by Georg Forster. Formally, the English travel journal shows typical signs of a finger exercise in preparing travel notes. However, it already points to the later travel journals, such as those that preceded the American journey.
Between June 1797 and April 1798, Humboldt traveled from Dresden via Prague to Vienna and Salzburg. In the Eastern Alps and the Salzkammergut, he learns how to use his instruments, experiments with chemical procedures, and seeks the advice of experienced researchers and instrument makers
Humboldt had his notes of the trip “De Paris à Toulon” inserted into the volumes of his American travel diaries with the note “Should not be printed”. In its main section, the text offers a multifaceted description of the encounters and hardships on the way through revolutionary France in 1798.
Humboldt's Journal of the Journey through Spain (1799) contains observations, measurements and stations along his route across the Iberian Plateau. Besides the flora, much attention is paid to the carefully documented barometric height measurements.
The records of Humboldt's journey to Italy in 1805 conclude the corpus of European journeys. Humboldt was accompanied to Italy by Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Franz August O'Etzel. The route leads first to Rome, where Humboldt's brother Wilhelm is Prussian envoy, and where Leopold von Buch joins the small travel group.