In path of Arminius Vambery - the project

Hungarian orientalist Arminius Vambery in the autumn of 1861, disguised as a Sunni dervish, and under the name of Reshit Efendi, he set out from Istanbul. His route lay from Trebizond on the Black Sea to Tehran in Persia, then went to Shiraz, through Isfahan, and in June, 1863, he reached Khiva (Central Asia).

Throughout this time, he succeeded in maintaining his disguise as "Reshit Efendi," so that upon his arrival at Khiva he managed to keep up appearances during interviews with the local khan. Together with his band of travelers, he then crossed Bokhara and arrived at Samarkand. Initially, he aroused the suspicions of the local ruler, who kept him in an audience for a full half-hour. Vámbéry managed to maintain his presences, and left the audience laden with gifts. Upon leaving Samarkand, Vámbéry began making his way back to Turkey, arriving there in March 1864 to Istanbul.

This was the first journey of its kind undertaken by a Western European; and since it was necessary to avoid suspicion, Vámbéry could not take even fragmentary notes, except by stealth. He returned to Europe in 1864. That following June, he paid a visit to London, where he was treated as a celebrity because of his daring adventures and knowledge of languages. That same year, he published his Travels in Central Asia, based on the few, furtive notes he was able to make while traveling with the dervishes.

From 20.09.2012.-08.06.1013. i followed Arminius Vambery's paths to document his unique travel with my camera and my bicycle, honouring his memory. After 8 moths and 30 000 km travel through Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine I arrived back to Hungary, Budapest.


Arminius Vambery (1832-1913), Hungarian orientalist, traveller

He was born 181 years ago, travelled to Central Asia 150 years ago and died 100 years ago. As Dr. David Livingstone told him: "What a pity you did not make Africa the scene of your activity! " Charles Dickens said during a friendly conversation: "You, sir, should be a novelist!"

He lived in Hungary, received a chair at the University of Pest from King Franz Josepf I of Austria, later he was introduced to Hungarian upper classes in the Budapest National Casino by Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom.

Mór Jókai, the famous hungarian writer loved Vambery’s travelogues and as the number one source he gave a lot of information about Vlad Tepes to Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. 
Mr. Arminius Vambery was main advisor in foreign affairs to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and to Abdul Hamid II ottoman Sultan.

Let’s read what his disciple Gyula Germanus wrote about him: "A wobbling gentleman appeared in front of his house leaning on his stick exactly three o’clock in the afternoon, he stopped for a while looking over the majestic river Danube then he slowly walked to the National Casino. Shopkeepers and the workers of the wharf set their watches right–so reliable he was; and then the time came when political watches of Albion were set after this austere but steely and energetic little man with a nice smile. "

He was Arminius Vambery orientalist, Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, founder of the Hungarian Geographical Society and honorary member of the London Royal Geographical Society. Hungary remembers him in 2013 a hundred years after his death.