travel handbook

After Karl Baedeker (Essen 1801, Koblenz 1859) and his successors, publishers of the well-known travel guides.
Baedeker came from an old Westphalian family of book printers. In 1827 he arrived in Koblenz and opened a bookstore.

In 1828 the book Die Rheinreise von Mainz bis Cöln, Handbuch für Schnellreisende by professor JA Klein was published. When he died, Baedeker took over the rights in 1832 and published his own rewritten edition. From then on he started working himself.

Belgien und Holland from 1839 was his first original work. He had in his luggage a copy of the Red Books of the renowned English publisher John Murray. The English were the first tourists on the European mainland.

Baedeker later became friends with Murray and would later publish his books in the same recognizable red color with gold print.

The special thing about these travel guides was that Baedeker only described what he had seen or experienced himself. He had visited every road, every station and every attraction himself. He turned out to be incorruptible, especially when it came to the quality of the restaurants and inns. He returned a case of wine that he received from a hotel owner with the message that he would only accept it if all guests received one.

He traveled inconspicuously, in plain clothes and under an pseudonym, and avoided public life so that he could not be recognized. Nobody knew what he looked like.

In his own words, he mainly wanted to make the traveler independent and free him from staff in general, both his own servants and difficult guides, hotel employees and anyone who offered themselves to help. 'Anyone who wants to get to know the country and people better will find that they are like chains on the feet, hindering every movement, especially the spiritual one.' So he personally counted the number of columns in St. Peter's Gallery in Rome and checked exactly what time Masses began in Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Baedeker was a romantic through and through. He liked to quote poems and with love he referred to the old sagas and legends. He avoided the comfort of luxury hotels and preferred to seek accommodation in an honest inn with a reliable innkeeper.

In this way he set a trend in travel.

The series of excellent (red) travel guides made his name a household name. He died in 1859 of heart disease. His sons Ernst, Karl and Fritz continued his work.

Cynical detail: German pilots used his guide to the United Kingdom in their 'Baedeker raids' on English cities in 1942.