HOLLAND, Sir Henry
As soon as he finished his medical studies in 1812, the Englishman Henry Holland (1788-1873) started on a journey lasting several months, the account of which he later published, with twelve engravings based on his own drawings. In his prologue, he emphasizes that he will not only describe archaeological sites and monuments, but also focus on the current situation in the country, because: “The interest which the world now takes in Greece, refers not merely to ancient times, but regards also the future condition of a people who are again resuming a national character, and whom time and political changes may again raise to perfect independence”.
Holland sailed from Sicily to Zacynthos, where he was able to collect demographic and economic information on the rest of the Ionian Islands as well. When he reached the territory of Ali Pasha, he went first to Arta and then stayed for some time in Giannina. There, as a physician, he had the opportunity to become well acquainted with the infamous Pasha’s contradictory personality and to write on his administrative abilities. Holland was impressed too by the commercial and intellectual dynamism of Giannina’s inhabitants. He then continued on to Thessaly, visiting the monastic community at Meteora and the town of Tyrnavos. While in Larissa, he became acquainted with the Greek doctor, erudite and philosopher Ioannis Vilaras, whom he admired. After a short visit to Ambelakia, Holland reached Thessalonica, and wrote on life and commerce in that populous city. He then travelled to the Sporades islands, and subsequently went to Lamia and Thermopylae. He spent Christmas of that year in Delphi. Then, after visiting Livadeia, where he stayed in the home of Logothetis, a wealthy man of the community, he ended up in Athens, where he stayed for a month. In continuation, in the winter of 1813, Holland travelled to the Peloponnese (Corinth, Nemea, Mycenae, Argos, Tripolis, Patras). He then moved northwards. In Preveza he met with Ali Pasha once more and then reached devastated Souli. He visited various towns in Albania (Delvinaki, Argyrocastro (Gjirokastër), Tepeleni, Apollonia, Himara, Buthrotum (Butrint) and Aulona (Vlorë). Among other features of his chronicle, of special interest are the descriptions of the church of St Demetrios in Thessalonica, Dion, Lamia and Hydra, all quite rare for the era, as well as Holland’s most interesting observations on Athens.
Holland then returned to England. In 1840 he became physician to the King. He travelled extensively in Europe and visited America six times. Holland died on his eighty-sixth birthday. The descriptions of the natural landscape, the numerical data he provides on various populations and their commercial and economic activities, and above all his capacity for insightful observation make Holland one of the most important travellers in the years that preceded the Greek Revolution.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou