Despite great advances in transport and communications, the world remains enormous. Package tours may have created the ‘if today is Wednesday, this must be Paris’ syn
One can visit ‘Old London Bridge’ at Lake Havasu in Arizona
drome. But, for many, travel remains an expensive and time-consuming inconvenience and they certainly wouldn’t agree with Robert Louis Stevenson’s sentiment that ‘To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive’. How much more convenient it would be if all the world’s great tourist sights could be brought together, so that one might view the Pyramids from the top of the Tower of Pisa or take a gondola ride beneath Tower Bridge.
It is, of course, possible to move and rebuild landmarks – one can visit ‘Old London Bridge’ at Lake Havasu in Arizona where it now forms the centrepie
The North Transept, The Crystal Palace, Sydenham, 1854. Credit: NMPFT
ce of an ‘English’ village of shops and restaurants. But it is much simpler to recreate the world from scratch, with varying degrees of accuracy, within a themed environment. Today’s theme parks, often based around a geographic or historic concept, can trace their origins back to the various fairs and exhibitions held in the nineteenth century.
Where is the biggest pyramid in the world? Egypt? Wrong, think again. The correct answer, believe it or not, is Las Vegas, where it forms part of the Luxor Hotel and Casino. Here, guests can ‘revel in the hedonistic pleasures of ancient Egypt’, ‘shop in an Egyptian bazaar at the Giza Galleria’ and eat at the Pyramid Cafe ‘surrounded by Anci
Part of a stereodaguerreotype of statues in the Crystal Palace, about 1855. Credit: NMPFT
ent gods and goddesses from the Temple of Luxor’.
This example of contemporary excess, however, has many historical precedents. In 1812, the Egyptian Hall was opened in London’s Piccadilly. Built in the style of an Egyptian temple, this had a long and distinguished career as a venue for popular entertainments before it was demolished in 1905.
In 1854, Joseph Paxton’s ‘Crystal Palace’, built originally for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, was reopened in Sydenham. A
The world on display: The Great Exhibition of 1851. Credit: NMPFT
mong the most popular of the attractions it offered was the Egyptian Court. It had a dramatic centrepiece: two 65-feet-high statues of Ramesses the Great copied from the temple at Aboo Simbel. More recently, in 1991, Harrods opened its Egyptian Hall, the culmination of a £200 million refurbishment programme initiated by Mohammed Al Fayed, which, according to the press release: ‘…evokes the aesthetic beauty of a pioneering culture some 4,000 years old...and the finest merchandise from modern times.’
Photography, film and television shape our vision of the world. From its beginnings, photography has shaped our perception of the world and of travel. In turn, travel is one of the main reasons why people take photographs. > more
Images have been combined with motion, sound and even smell to try to recreate the physical sensation of travel. ‘Immersive’ technologies such as widescreen films and 3D attempt to make us feel part of the action. > more