Ever wondered when the travel-publishing industry began, in what form, by whom, how, and with what intention?

Honestly, I never did until I came across this piece on an exhibition that is displaying a set of Europe’s first printed travel images and maps from the Middle Ages and Renaissance period.

In those days, traveling to faraway lands was a venture for the privileged and daring few. The printing press was invented in the 15th Century, which was the first time the collection of these early travel images could be distributed. These images show the European perception of foreign lands and cultures in those times.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is displaying 60 of these images from the 15th-18th century, on view through September 16, 2007. Called Fabulous Journeys and Faraway Places, the pictures and illustrations depict mythological and imaginary journeys, pilgrimages to holy sites, and adventurous expeditions across the world.

For those who are not in D.C. and fancy a peek — check out web-exclusive highlights of the exhibition here on Budget Travel.

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