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Great Cities Through Travellers' Eyes

Peter Furtado

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A wide-ranging anthology of travellers’ accounts of thirty-eight of the world’s most fascinating cities, from ancient times to the present


Throughout history, intrepid men and women have related their experiences and perceptions of the world’s great cities to bring them alive to those at home. The thirty-eight cities covered in this entertaining anthology of travellers’ tales are spread over six continents, ranging from Beijing to Berlin, Cairo to Chicago, Lhasa to London, St Petersburg to Sydney and Rio to Rome.

This volume features commentators across the millennia, including the great travellers of ancient times, such as Strabo and Pausanias; those who undertook extensive journeys in the medieval world, not least Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta; courageous women such as Isabella Bird and Freya Stark; and enterprising writers and journalists including Mark Twain and Norman Lewis. We see the world’s great cities through the eyes of traders, explorers, soldiers, diplomats, pilgrims and tourists; the experiences of emperors and monarchs sit alongside those of revolutionaries and artists, but also those of ordinary people who found themselves in remarkable situations, like the medieval Chinese abbot who was shown round the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris by the King of France himself.

Some of the writers seek to provide a straightforward, accurate description of all they have seen, while others concentrate on their subjective experiences of the city and encounters with the inhabitants. Introduced and contextualized by bestselling historian Peter Furtado, each account provides both a vivid portrait of a distant place and time and an insight into those who journeyed there. The result is a book that delves into the splendours and stories that exist beyond conventional guidebooks and websites.

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'Conscientiously international, stretching across three millennia'
Times Literary Supplement

'Furtado’s judiciously edited collection calls on historical witnesses to do the talking, and it is a testament to his process of selection … I found myself returning, helplessly, to certain passages of astonishing beauty'
Yorkshire Times

'This is not your typical guidebook. Instead, this intriguing collection of travellers’ tales gives you perspectives on 38 cities across six continents … These range from the historic to the amusing to the scabrous, which together create a revealing insight into a millennia of travel'

'A perfect read both for those who like to travel and those who prefer to let others do the work for them. Its bite-sized extracts and vast variety of authors will appeal to readers, who are bound to learn something from this entertaining volume'
All About History

'Entertaining … a book that delves into the splendours and stories that exist beyond conventional guidebooks and websites'
Timeless Travels

'Takes readers on a glorious adventure around the world'
Family Tree

Budapest Times

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 23.4 x 15.3 cm

Extent: 368 pp

Illustrations: 39

Publication date: 4 July 2019

ISBN: 9780500021651

Contents List

Alexandria • Amsterdam • Athens • Baghdad • Beijing • Berlin • Cairo • Chicago • Damascus • Dublin • Florence • Guangzhou • Havana • Hong Kong • Istanbul • Jerusalem • Lhasa • London • Madrid • Mecca • Mexico City • Moscow • Mumbai • Naples • New York • Paris • Prague • Rio de Janeiro • Rome • St Petersburg • Samarkand • San Francisco • Sydney • Timbuktu • Tokyo • Venice • Vienna • Washington

About the Author

Peter Furtado is the former editor of History Today. He is the author of numerous books, including the Sunday Times bestselling Histories of Nations and Great Cities Through Travellers’ Eyes, both published by Thames & Hudson.