According to the opening words of his rihla or Travels, Ibn Jubayr, along with his personal physician, Abu Ja�far Ahmad Ibn Hassan, left Granada in Andalusian Spain on 3 February 1183. From there it was several days journey southwest by land across southern Spain where they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to the northern African city of Ceuta. In Ceuta, Ibn Jubayr and Ibn Hassan were able to secure passage aboard a Genoese ship sailing for Alexandria. The journey by sea was long and arduous, taking the travelers by way of an indirect route that sailed around the southwestern portion of Sardinia before bearing towards Sicily then Crete. From here the boatload of pilgrims turned due south towards the northern African coast which they sailed near until finally making port at Alexandria in late March 1183. The two travelers spend relatively little time exploring the ancient cities of Alexandria and Cairo, instead opting to make progress along the Nile before departing it near Qus Egypt where they split off along a desert caravan route long used by merchants and pilgrims alike to Aydhab, a port city along the western shores of the Red Sea. In Aydhab Ibn Jubayr would find passage across the Red Sea to Arabia and the way towards the object of his travels, the holy city of Mecca. He put to the Red Sea aboard a Salibiyah towards Jidda, a gateway to Arabia on 18 July 1183. Ibn Jubayr reached the holy Arabian city of Mecca in August; he would not leave it until the following March, some seven months later. From there, he set across the al-Hejaz towards Medina, the resting place of Muhammad. After leaving Medina, the two Maghribis along established caravan routes, set out across the Arabian Desert towards Baghdad which he reached between late May and early June of 1184. From Baghdad Ibn Jubayr began his last major land segment, traveling through Takrit and Mosul before heading due west towards Aleppo through modern day northern Iraq and Syria. From Aleppo the pilgrims took a due south route towards Damascus. After a three month stay in Damascus, they made their way to Acre on the shores of the Mediterranean where they put forth to sea again on 9 October 1184. Their return voyage included a nearly disasterous ship wreck of the island of Sicily. Eventually the two pilgrims landed near Cartagena in mid April of 1185 with only a short land journey to their home town of Granada before them.
Brief History of the Text:
Since first written in the late twelfth century, it is safe to assume that the text was reproduced in its original language many times; however ascertaining an exact figure is hindered by the lack of publication documentation in earlier times. The only known remaining manuscript of Ibn Jubayr�s work resides preserved in the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. A number of Arabic reprints have appeared since the mid-nineteen sixties, most of which were published in Cairo. In 1852, William Wright, through Brill Publishers provided an Arabic edition based on the Leiden manuscript. Wright�s edition signified the beginning of serious scholarly interest in the travels of Ibn Jubayr. Michael Jan de Gouge in 1907 provided revisions to Wright�s work but was not alone in studying the narrative of our traveler. One year prior to the de Gouge revision, Celestino Schiaparelli, provided the first Italian translation through Casa Editrice Italiana in Rome, making it the first translation of Ibn Jubayr�s work outside of its original tongue. No other translation of the Rihla was made until 1949, when Maurice Gaudefroy-Demombynes, a Frenchman provided his fellow citizens with what he simply titled Voyages.
The only English translation created to date and thus most helpful for the purposes of this study was undertaken by Ronald J.C. Broadhurst, working with the Michael Jan de Gouge revision of Wright�s edition. Jonathan Cape Publishers published Broadhurst�s translation in London in 1952.