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GROOTE, E. von, Dr. Die Pilgerfahrt des Ritters Arnold von Harff von Cöln durch Italien, Syrien, Aegypten, Arabien, Aethiopien, Nubien, Palästina, die Türkei, Frankreich und Spanien..., Köln, J. M. Heberle, 1860.

The German knight Arnold von Harff (1471 – 1505) was born in Harff an der Erft, near modern Bedburg, west of Cologne. He went on a lengthy pilgrimage to Rome, the Holy Land, and Santiago de Compostela in the years 1496-9, while still in his 20's. Von Harff’s journey took him from Cologne to Rome and on to Venice, from where he sailed along the Adriatic coast to Egypt. He claimed to have visited India, Madagascar and the source of the Nile, before continuing to the Holy Land. On his return journey he travelled through Asia Minor and the Balkans to France and Spain, where he visited Santiago de Compostela. On his way home from Spain, he also stopped over at Mont St Michel abbey, Normandy. He reached Cologne in the autumn of 1498 or 1499 and died in 1505.

A keen observer of his environment, von Harff was also interested in the languages of the places he visited. In the course of his narrative, he gives short lexicons of words and phrases in Croatian, Albanian, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Hungarian, Basque and Breton.

His illustrated journal was edited in 1860 by E. von Groote, and it is considered one of the best examples of the period of this genre of travel narrative, which was very popular at the end of the Middle Ages. An English translation by Malcolm Letts, "The Pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff, Knight, from Cologne, through Italy, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Ethiopia, Nubia, Palestine, Turkey, France and Spain, which he accomplished in the years 1496-1499", was published in 1946. A rendition into modern German "Das Pilgertagebuch des Ritters Arnold von Harff (1496-1498)" was published by the Böhlau Verlag in 2007.


Elsie, Robert. "Early Albania, a Reader of Historical Texts, 11th - 17th Centuries", Wiesbaden 2003, p. 31-33.

Letts, Malcolm. "The Pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff... Translated from the German and edited with notes and an introduction by Malcolm Letts", London 1946, reprint 1947.

Written by Nicolas Nicolaides

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