Tourists, Travellers and Hotels in Nineteenth-Century Jerusalem.

Author:Long, Burke O.
Position:Book review
 
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Tourists, Travellers and Hotels in Nineteenth-Century Jerusalem. By Shimon GIBSON; Yoni Shapira; and Rupert L. Chapman III. The Palestine Exploration Fund Annual, vol. 11. Leeds: Maney Publishing, 2013. Pp. xv + 286, illus. $78. [Distributed by the David Brown Book Co., Oakville, Conn.]

In this elegantly produced volume, authors Gibson, Shapira, and Chapman offer a wealth of information about the development of Jerusalem's commercial hotels, as distinct from private accommodations in monasteries, pilgrims' hospices, and the like. Drawing on travelogues, guidebooks, letters, advertisements, photographs, architectural drawings, and early maps, the authors provide a rich assemblage of information on hotels that were active in the nineteenth century, and even a few that served travelers well into the twentieth. Readers will find the location of each establishment plotted on a map of the Old City and its immediate environs. The authors also include a catalogue of guidebooks which they consulted for their research (appendix I), a list of the properties that were active during these years (appendix II), an extensive bibliography, and usefully separate indexes to travelers and subject matter.

Introductory and concluding chapters offer a topical overview of tourists and pilgrims in Jerusalem, briefly setting travel and hotels in the context of improvements to infrastructure, sanitation, and security; rising middle class wealth, local commerce and souvenir trade, and the official stakes--commercial and missionary--planted by British, French, German, and American governments. However, these matters are mere background color in a painting that foregrounds information on specific hotels.

One long chapter treats thirteen properties. Typically, Gibson, Shapira, and Chapman establish the original and subsequent locations of each hotel and locate each in relation to streets and buildings of modern Jerusalem. The authors reproduce extracts from travelers' reports, many of which offer clues to original location as well as real-time opinions of the properties. We learn of the rooms, comfort, expense, water, sanitation, meals and wines, quality of service, clientele, ambience, and--often very important to tourists--the inspiring views of the Old City to be had from the hotel rooftop. Because it was so dependent on the specific interests of tourists and guidebook writers, this sort of information is necessarily incomplete and serendipitous. Nevertheless, it...

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