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December 2001 - Nr. 12


The Editor
Antje berichtet
Brief aus Kanada
Love of Tenor
Illinois Serving Well
K-W and Beyond
Christmas Fairs
Hoppeditz Awakening
Martini Dance...
A Hummel Figurine
Good Deed Recognized
Film Fest
Wins Film Prize
Chilean Wines
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Attractive Packages
Pina Bausch
Karl Baedecker
Recovery Prospects
Euro Countdown
Family Top Priority
German-Austrian Art
High Attitude
Germans Online
"Der Tunnel" Hailed
World Cup Ready

Remembering Karl Baedeker, Father of Modern Tourism


TWIG - Karl Baedeker, who has lent his name to travel guides for nearly 200 years, was born November 3, 1801. Baedeker, the son of an established publishing family, was among the first to discover and develop a nascent 19th- century demand for travel guides. At the time, railroads and steamships were coming into use, turning travel into an important industry. To Baedeker’s good fortune, this development dovetailed with his own avid interest in travel and his family’s business. After his studies and training as a bookseller in Heidelberg, Baedeker opened a publishing house in Koblenz in 1827. The following year, his signature work, Rheinreise von Mainz bis Köln (Travels Along the Rhine from Mainz to Cologne), was published. The popularity of this guide, which went on to three acclaimed editions within 12 years, was buoyed by a rising tide of Rhine tourism. Millions of travelers followed Baedeker’s advice in touring the enchanting cities and fortresses that dot the river’s banks.

Baedeker guides, with their distinctive red binding and stamped gilt lettering, were instantly recognizable and eponymous with high-quality travel. The books met a burgeoning demand for reliable information on many (then little explored) regions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Baedeker placed the highest value on accurate, up-to-date, first-hand accounts and detailed maps for his books. Comprehensive information on transportation routes, timetables and accommodations was a novelty, as most travel books of the period were grandly written recipes for adventure, rather than practical handbooks for exploration.

A famous anecdote illustrates Baedeker’s exacting methods: In 1847, Baedeker was in Milan to research the city’s celebrated cathedral. No trip to this site is complete without a climb to the cathedral roof for the rare and spectacular close-up view it affords of the decorative carvings high above the city. As Baedeker ascended the steep stairs to the roof, he was seen to pull something from his pant pocket and drop it every few steps. In fact, the scrupulous fact-checker was placing a pea at 20-step intervals to ensure the precision of his count. On his way back down, Baedeker collected the peas to cross check his figures and thus assure his readers ¾ with consummate accuracy ¾ of the exertions required to reach the top.

Verlag Karl Baedeker is today the oldest and most venerable German-language travel book publisher. More than 150 book titles spanning destinations the world over and translations into ten languages prove the pea-counter’s prescience.

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