Discovering Dalmatia brings together twelve texts offering new interpretations of conceptions of the space, natural beauty, and cultural heritage of Dalmatia as a destination for educated travellers from the late seventeenth to the first half of the twentieth century. (…) It includes analyses of accounts by a wide range of travellers, from Jacob Spon, Robert Adam, Aleksander Sapieha, Ludwig Salvator, Franz Thiard de Laforest, numerous Viennese painters and Art History students, to Gertrude Bell and Bernard Berenson. (…) Before us is a book in which the “view from the outside” is considered in a critical, comparative, and contextual way. Dalmatian spaces are thus integrated once more into European spaces, in which the interest in this forgotten or unfamiliar, not to mention exotic, land first appeared during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The interpretations of the travelogues – from manuscripts and printed books to sketches, graphical representations, pictures, and photographs – focus on the shattering of prejudices, culture shocks, and the aesthetic experiences of a generation of European intellectuals, which allow contemporary readers to understand the value of this complex space, and to understand the establishment of the cultural and natural heritage of the Croatian coastal region.
From a review by Marko Špikić
The publications arising from the Discovering Dalmatia colloquia compellingly outline just how significant Iter Dalmaticum is for the global study of the Grand Tour. The conferences have uncovered a small constellation of European researchers who, with ever more precise insights and analytic nuances, studied the local monuments, geography, mentality, folk costumes, customs, and ultimately the perspectives of this little-known province on the edge of European civilisation. (…) This collection of papers demonstrates the way that knowledge about Dalmatia was changed and exchanged in the period spanning the seventeenth to the twentieth century. (…) The powerful intellectual curiosity and erudition of the travellers, as well as the emotion awakened by the balance between nature and picturesque architectural complexes, resulted in compelling personal impressions and subtle notes on the nature of the Dalmatia of the past. Scholarly studies gradually moved from their original focus on the Greek and Roman monuments that formed Dalmatia’s foundations to include an interest in the heritage of medieval municipalism, towards a discussion of the defining of national identity, and to an interpretation of Dalmatian monuments, which represent the distinctive contribution this extremely complex cultural environment made to the universal history of European civilisation.
From a review by Joško Belamarić