In the company of his friend, fellow world traveler and photographer Maxime du Camp, French novelist Gustave Flaubert visited Jerusalem in 1850. The urbane and sophisticated Flaubert was decidedly unimpressed with this crumbling backwater of the Ottoman Empire: "Jerusalem stands as a fortress; here the old religions silent rot away. One treads on dung; ruins surround you wherever your eyes wander -- a very sad and sorry picture."
That same year, a Rev. George Wilson Bridges also made his way tothe Holy City. An English cleric and an amateur photographer, Bridges and his young son traveled through Palestine as part of a seven-year journey around the Mediterranean and the East. Bridges undertook the journey as a form of solace: He had just buried his wife and daughter in Jamaica -- victims of a tropical fever they contracted while the reverend was there doing missionary work. Steeped as he was in grief and religious conviction, Bridges found that Jerusalem's atmosphere of melancholia and desolation suited him. "What sight," he observed after witnessing Jews praying at the Western Wall, "even in this wondrous city, so touching, so impressive as this -- Jews mourning the ruins of Jerusalem...."