Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer
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
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.