The History of Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome.

Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome: Historic Evolution of Tourism

This is the first part of an investigation of the History of Tourism. The second part, Tourism in the Middle Ages can be read here
Tourism is a series of trips made for pleasure or for commercial, professional or similar reasons, during which the absence of habitual residence is only temporary.
Triumph Arch in Via Agrippa - Orange - (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Triumph Arch in Via Agrippa – Orange – (France)
Modern tourism was born in the XIX century, as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, with displacements between distant places, with the main intention of developing leisure, rest, culture, health, business or family relations.

These movements are differentiated by their purpose of other types of travel originated by wars, migratory movements or conquest. But tourism has many historical antecedents.

Ancient Age Tourism: Greece

In 776 BC, the first Olympic Games were held, which consisted of athletic competitions in honor of the Gods of Olympus. Artistic and athletic offerings were offered as a gift. Many times sacrifices and prayers were also performed in honor of some god in particular.

 

 Acropolis - Atenas -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Acropolis – Atenas – Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

Although lesser known, the Pitios, Ismios and Nemeos festivals were also celebrated. These celebrations mobilized a large number of people, who of course, needed transportation and roads to travel. The roads system was very similar to that of the Persians and they usually traveled on foot or by donkey. 

Greece had a network of inns that only offered a bed for the night. They did not have dining rooms or bathrooms

It is also known that in each city public baths were built, open to everyone, where tourists of that time had to bring their own towels. They took off their clothes and kept them in special lockers, and then a slave took care of the hygiene with jars of hot and cold water.

Acropolis & Pyramids

Pilgrimages to the different temples of Greece and to the oracles were very common. the most important one was that of Apollo in Delphi and among the most visited sanctuaries is the one of Esculapio, god of medicine.

The Greek lands also offered medicinal baths. Also seaside resorts, theater festivals and the opportunity to see monuments such as the Acropolis of Athens. The Acropolis are from the fifth century BC became one of the most visited sites in the world ancient along with the pyramids of Egypt. These were two of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The Greeks visited other regions, such as Egypt. In most cases these visits were for military or trade matters, although it is known that the pyramids attracted many tourists.

 

Roman Theater - Orange - France Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Roman Theater – Orange – France

Proxenos

In ancient Greece there were offices called proxenos. Here foreigners were received (it is remembered that foreigners did not have any kind of rights because of their status as non-citizens). It was for people who had problems to return to their city or country.

They could also need lodging, or even a loan to continue their trip. Many times the managers of these almost consular offices, arranged with merchants passages in boat where the tourists could take their own servants, offering them food and drink.

You may be interested: Religious Tourism in the Middle Ages

Slaves & Tourism

In classical Greece free men gave great importance to leisure, and devoted it to culture, entertainment, religion and sport. We must remember that all these activities could only be done by free men of the upper class or the Nobles. Many slaves were also available at that time.

Approximately seven slaves for each free man. It is for this reason that tourism was an exclusive activity of wealthy class that moved with servants, slaves and a considerable guard for protection. The tourist activity that was not religious or to attend the Olympic games was scarce.

 

Amphitheaters & Odeon of Lyon (France) -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome: Odeon of Lyon (France) –

Tourism in the Roman Empire

During Roman Empire the Romans frequented thermal waters and great spectacles, like the theaters, and the coliseums. They made trips to the Mediterranean coast in the city of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Campania area (near Naples).Also the island of Capri, where there were summer residences. The Emperor Tiberius had a villa on the island of Capri (today you can visit its ruins).
These pleasure trips were possible due to Pax Romana, the development of communication routes. They also influenced economic prosperity due to the trade that allowed the creation of an upper class. And of course free time.

A Bit of Roman History

 

Amphitheaters of Nimes (France) - Ancient Tourism
Amphitheaters of Nimes (France)
During the empire (27 BC to 476 AD) begins a period of absolutism in Rome, where the emperor was chosen by the army. With Octavio Augusto (first emperor) the Pax Romana was achieved, which lasted approximately 200 years. In this epoch is where the Roman tourism had its maxima.
The empire was divided into provinces that in turn were divided into Municipium and Coloniae.  It is depending on their legal hierarchy Each territorial division had services for public enjoyment and entertainment, which were sometimes visited by inhabitants of other territories.
Temple of Juno- Nimes France
Temple of Juno- Nimes France

All Roads Lead to Rome

These attractions were temples, circus maxima, pantheons, basilicas, markets, amphitheatres and theaters. All the provinces and colonies communicated through a network of roads, roads and roads, which began to be built around 150 BC, covering some 100,000 miles. This allowed to reach the entire empire from Scotland and Germany to Egypt, Persia and Crimea
Roman Roads -- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Roman Roads — Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

Only for Military Use

In the beginning the Roman roads were designed for military use. Legions and military equipment could be moved much faster than if they were transferred to cross country. The time of transfer between cities was shortened not only for military use but for trade and tourism.

Patrician families used to send their children to Greece to receive rhetoric and philosophy classes. In this case, the route by sea was the most chosen, for the comforts and speed compared to the terrestrial displacement. Accommodation facilities on routes far from the Roman metropolis were very scarce.

Julio César, who was traveling at an extraordinary speed, traveled from the Rhone ( germany)  to Rome in about eight days. However, the fastest journey of antiquity was, the one that made Tiberius to Drusus from Tichinum in Germany, a distance of 200 miles, made in 20 hours even though he had only one guide and had to make several changes of mount.

ORBIS  – University of Stanford  Raod & Network Calculator on Line

ORBIS  - University of Stanford  Raod & Network Calculator on Line
Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

The Roman Empire Roads

There were stone signs indicating the distance to the next city, the name of the road, its construction date and its constructor Every 10 miles approx. There were some posts where travelers could change their exhausted horses and even eat. It was through these trade routes that tourism was developed as a secondary activity. Maritime routes were also used, being the main ports those of Alexandria / Egypt), Ostia (Italy)  and Cartago Nova ( Spain).

Stones on The Roads

Plutarch, attributed to Gaius Graco, the placement of stones on the sides of the road, at close distance from each other, so that those who traveled on horseback could ride from them without the assistance of slaves. Keep in mind that the Romans did not use stirrups when riding.
The roads had a post service every five or six Roman miles and it was possible to travel through the Roman Empire at a rate of about one hundred miles a day or more. The journey from Antioch to Constantinople, a distance of 752 miles could be made in about six or seven days.
Triumph Arch in Via Domitia - Saint Remy de Provence - (France)- Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Triumph Arch in Via Domitia and Mausoleum of Glanum – Saint Remy de Provence – (France)

The mausoleum of Glanum is a Roman funerary monument located in the ancient city of Glanum, near the city of Saint-Rémy de Provence (France). Built between the years 30 and 20 BC (August Emperor) It is a tribute to a family of Gallic origin that obtained Roman citizenship fighting in the Roman army. There is an inscription in the mummies

SEX.M.L.IVLEI.C.F.PARENTIVUS.SVEIS
–SEX (your) M (arcus) L (ucius) IVLIEI C (aii) • F (ilii) PARENTIBVS SVEIS–
SEXTUS, LUCIUS (and) MARCUS IULII (Julia) SONS of CAIUS (dedicate this) to their parents

Tourism: Only the Upper Class

The Roman citizens were very fond of tourism, in most cases for pleasure. We must consider that it is the same case as the Greeks. Only free noble and upper class men could afford a tourist transfer. This transfer included servants, slaves, clients and armed escort. This was both by land and by sea. 
The only documented case of the displacement of a high class and noble character was that of Cato the Elder, Senator and Roman governor of Hispania (Present Spain). Cato was mobilized on foot or on horseback with only one servant. The day he left to be governor he sold the horse so as not to cause more expenses to the treasury. Needless to say, his example was not imitated by anyone.
Roman Theater - Orange -- (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Roman Theater – Orange – France — Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Returning to the main theme, tourism among the Romans included a displacement overnight at least one night and less than a year to a place of destination. All this done, of course, in free time. They had a lot of free time, getting to have 200 holidays a year (in 345 AD)

Non-Religious Tourism

The Romans traveled to see the temples of the Mediterranean, the pyramids and monuments of Egypt. Also to attend the Olympic Games in Greece and the prosperous markets of Asia Minor. In these markets there were many exotic items never seen in Rome, with which to decorate the villas of Campania.

They also hired local guides and consulted papyri that explained a certain area and their entertainment possibilities. They were the tour guides of that time. Of course they bought something smaller as souvenirs and had a tendency to engrave the traveler’s name on the stones of the monuments they visited. This was at the request of the inhabitants, since the prestige of a noble visitor attracted more tourists.

 

Temple of Juno - Nimes - (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Temple of Juno – Nimes – (France) -Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

The trips were made for pleasure, business or health or religious issues. Religious tourism and pilgrimages to both Greek and Roman temples became part of almost every tourist itinerary. But it was not about devotion but about entertainment. These temples were visited by tourists who in some cases were no longer sacred places, but monuments to visit. (almost equal to what happens today in the Catholic churches of Europe)

Weekend Roman Villas: Capri & Pompeii

The Romans also liked to spend a leisure time away from the city and used to move to the Campania (Naples). From the time of the empire of Octavius ​​Augustus, the Senate was no longer an institution of power. The emperor reigned and were not consulted.

The senators retired to live in the countryside, near Rome but away from it. The area chosen was Campania, Cities such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, Tivoli, Beneventum and Islands such as Capri, where luxury villas were built. Infrastructure was also built as additional roads, ports, passenger ships, inns and markets.

 

The houses in the city of Rome became the second residence and the country villa the habitual residence. You find the infrastructure was also built in those compestres places. Amphitheatres (Pompeii), circus maxima, thermal baths and medicinal baths. all this thanks to the pax romana that lasted approximately 250 years from the reign of Octavius Augustus.

Emperor Caracalla built in Rome the baths that bear his name. They were public baths that had steam rooms, pools of hot water (caldarium) and cold (frigidarium), gymnastics, rest and massage rooms. There were also writing rooms, libraries and gardens. 

On the island of Capri, the Tiberian emperor built a luxurious villa with a swimming pool. You can still visit today’s day

Amphitheaters for all

The construction of the Maximum Circus and the Colosseum in Rome, led to tourism also going in the other direction. Inhabitants of the entire empire wished to know Rome. The network of roads, security and the pax romana contributed to a flow of tourists to the Rome.

They also built amphitheatres like the Colosseum in Rome and theaters in other cities, which also enjoyed a fair share of tourists. We can name the theater of Orange (France) and the amphitheaters of Nimes and Arles (France).  That amphitheaters can be visited nowadays and in a very good state of conservation.

amphitheaters of Nimes and Arles (France) Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome
Amphitheater of Nimes (France)

My Darling, and if We Visit Esparta?

During the Roman domination in Greece, the city of Sparta, powerful and famous in other times became a focus of tourism on the part of the Roman upper class. Sparta no longer had possibilities of any kind, military or economic or political. But focused on their ancestral military education to young people. The education of the It was so hard that it became a tourist attraction in itself

Amphitheater in Sparta Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

Amphitheater in Sparta -Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

The Ritual

The ritual combats that had traditionally been fought in the shrine of Artemis Ortia, under Roman domination, became the dimastígosis (they existed for a long time) ,  where the children were scourged and sometimes even death. Also the Romans had a deep curiosity to discover how a city so feared in its time, I am reduced to a town of goat herders and a circus military education.

Cicero tells in the Tusculanas (II 34) how Spartan education and its excesses had become a spectacle that attracted tourists. The crowd that comes to the show is so numerous that it was necessary to build an amphitheater in front of the temple to welcome it. This show attracted tourists until the fourth century of our era. Documented by Libanio in his Discourses, (I, 23).

 

Rome amphitheater. Coliseum - History of Tourism
Rome Amphitheater. Coliseum- Italy  – History of Tourism 

Religious Tourism in Middle Ages

Related Post

End of the first part : Tourism in Ancient Greece and Rome

How Many People Travel Vacations? Countries with more travelers

How many people travel vacations?: 10 Countries with more travelers

How Many People Travel Vacations?: The tourism specialist company Oyster.com noted that US employees leave an average of 658 million vacation days unused each year. For this reason I investigate which countries are the ones that use their vacations the most to travel.

Number of trips per year: 7.5

Finland tops the list of the most well-traveled citizens in the world. Per capita, the average Finnish Travel:

  • Domestic Trips 5.8 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    1.7 Per capita / year

Finns enjoy warmer destinations such as the Canary Islands and Turkey, as well as Las Palmas, Tenerife, (Spain),  Antalya (Turkey) and Chania (Greece), according to Finavia, a company that operates the country’s airports and navigation systems.

Finland - 10 Countries with more travelers 2019
Finland – 10 Countries with more travelers 2019

#2  Unites States of America

Number of trips per year: 6.7

There are no laws that grant U.S. citizens the right to an assigned number of vacation days. But the Americans occupy the second place in the ranking of travelers and tourists.

Grand Canyon - 10 Countries with more travelers 2019
Grand Canyon – 10 Countries with more travelers 2019
  • Domestic Trips 6.5 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    0.2 Per capita / year

Most Americans prefer to stay close to home. Most of the Americans who traveled abroad in 2016 visited Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Central America, according to the statistical report of the air passengers of the National Office of Travel and Tourism.

How Many People Travel Vacations? Countries with more travelers

New York Botanic Garden. - How Many People Travel Vacations?
New York Botanic Garden. – How Many People Travel Vacations?

And as for domestic travel, Americans continue to go to points like Charleston, New Orleans, Savannah, Santa Fe, Nashville, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

Yellowstone National Park, Midway Geyser Basin. USA
Yellowstone National Park, Midway Geyser Basin. USA

#3  Sweden

Number of trips per year: 6

Per capita, Swedes plan an average of:

  • Domestic Trips 4.4 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    1.6 Per capita / year

The most common destinations for your vacation are Spain (Mallorca, Barcelona and Malaga) , Italy ( Sardinia, Sicily and Capri) . Outside Europe the most visited destination is New York City

Sweden - 10 Countries with more travelers
Sweden – 10 Countries with more travelers 2019

 

#4  Denmark

Number of trips per year: 5.3

The Denmarkns make a total of 5.3 trips each year :

  • Domestic Trips 3.9 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    1.4 Per capita / year

The winters of Denmark are long and the summer weather is unpredictable. Then Danes travel to places like Spain (Mallorca, Tenerife, Barcelona, Alhambra). Greece (Crete) and Malta for its warmer climate. They also visit these places for outdoor activities such as golf and hiking.

Denmark - 10 Countries with more travelers 2019
Denmark – 10 Countries with more travelers 2019

#5  Norway

Number of trips per year: 5.2

Noruegon travel:

  • Domestic Trips 3.2 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    2.0 Per capita / year

Norwegians are in fifth place as the most traveled citizens in the world. Many Norwegians still opt for an active holiday at home. “The Norwegians are improving in traveling around their own country,” says Kristin Krohn Devold, NHO (Confederation of the Norwegian Enterprise). Many have their own cabins in the most remote areas of the country where they go during their free time for long walks or skiing.

Norway - 10 Countries with more travelers
Norway – 10 Countries with more travelers 2019

#6  Hong Kong

Number of trips per year: 4.6

  • Domestic Trips 0.3 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    4.3 Per capita / year

Hong Kong is the only Asian country in the top 10 in the Travel & Tourism Intelligence Center study. Residents spend more time on international trips (4.3) than on domestic trips (0.3). Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are among the few places for those who enjoy traveling outside the country. Somehow, all three places satisfy interests, which include food, wine, shopping. Also enjoy hot springs.

Hong Kong - How Many People Travel Vacations?
Hong Kong – How Many People Travel Vacations?

#7  New Zealand

Number of trips per year: 4.3

  • Domestic Trips 3.8 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    0.5 Per capita / year

New Zealand  Citizens have 3.8 domestic trips and 0.5 trips abroad. With three or four hours flight and distance, Fiji and Australia are the list of international vacation destinations.
The coast of Australia, particularly the Gold Coast and the Coast of the Sun, is usually the main destination of most New Zealanders traveling outside the country.

New Zealand - How Many People Travel Vacations?
New Zealand – How Many People Travel Vacations?

#8  Canada

Number of trips per year: 4.1

Canadians travel:

  • Domestic Trips 3.1 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    1.0 Per capita / year

Per capita, Canadians take 3.1 domestic trips and 1 international trip each year. The United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Cuba are some of the best places they visit when traveling abroad. US cities like New York City Las Vegas, Chicago and Seattle are popular options. According to Newspapers Canada, about 45 percent of Canadians travel within the country. The main destinations are in western Canada (Ontario and Quebec).

Moraine Lake - Canada
Moraine Lake – Canada 2019

#9  Australia

Number of trips per year: 3.8

  • Domestic Trips 3.4 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    0.4 Per capita / year

Australians make a total of 3.8 trips per year, including 3.4 domestic getaways and 0.4 international vacations. Many are trips to local beach destinations (Sydney, Melbourne, and Queensland are favorites). “Australians love to walk in a magnificent natural environment like Tasmania, Victoria and any national park, many of them located along the coast of the country,” says Julie Earle-Levine of Tourism Australia.

Bali, London and India are the most popular destinations when Australians make a trip abroad.

Australia is one of the 10 Countries with more travelers 2019 

- Sidney - How Many People Travel Vacationsi n in 2019?
Sidney – How Many People Travel Vacations in 2019?

#10  How Many People Travel Vacations?: France

Number of trips per year: 3.5

How Many People Travel Vacations?: France is one of the most visited countries a year. But the fans travel very little outside their country. The French make 3.1 domestic trips and 0.4 annual international trips. A trip somewhere in the country is more common.

  • Domestic Trips 3.1 Per capita / year
  • Foreign Trips    0.4 Per capita / year

 The international destinations visit are:

“In general, it depends on the region of France from which it comes, but the tendency is to visit the coastal cities,” they say from the Tourism Development Agency of France. For example, it is not uncommon for Bordeaux residents to make a trip to Biarritz or for Parisians to plan a short trip to Normandy. Also Corsica is a very popular destination

How Many People Travel Vacationsin in 2019? - Paris
How Many People Travel Vacations in in 2019? – Paris

Maybe you’re interested too

External Links