Waterfalls have long attracted the attention of travellers, some of whom were writers and artists who have left us a cultural legacy of their observations and interpretations. Likewise, geologists have studied and recorded these landscape features since the infancy of their science. An examination of travellers’ experiences of waterfalls since the emergence of Romanticism in eighteenth-century Europe reveals a variety of responses, both utilitarian and aesthetic. Seen as valuable sources of renewable energy, impediments to navigation, beautiful, sublime or picturesque natural wonders and resources for tourism, waterfalls continue to appeal to the Romantic traveller and the pleasure-seeking tourist. Increasingly, waterfalls are being threatened by schemes to exploit them, especially for power generation or intensive tourism development. In many parts of the world, this presents a serious challenge to those responsible for the management of this often spectacular aspect of geodiversity. This paper explores these various themes which are contextualized within the historical and cultural framework of Romanticism.
Figures & Tables
Appreciating Physical Landscapes: Three Hundred Years of Geotourism
Geotourism, as a form of sustainable geoheritage tourism, was defined and developed, from the early 1990s, to contextualize modern approaches to geoconservation and physical landscape management. However, its roots lie in the late seventeenth century and the emergence of the Grand Tour and its domestic equivalents in the eighteenth century. Its participants and numerous later travellers and tourists, including geologists and artists, purposefully explored wild landscapes as‘geotourists’.
The written and visual records of their observations underpin the majority of papers within this volume; these papers explore some significant geo-historical themes, organizations, individuals and locations across three centuries, opening with seventeenth century elite travellers and closing with modern landscape tourists. Other papers examine the resources available to those geotourists and explore the geotourism paradigm.
The volume will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, historians of science, tourism specialists and general readers with an interest in landscape history.