David Roberts was the first professional British artist to travel independently to the Middle East in 1838. British artists were intrigued by Middle Eastern architecture, especially in Cairo where, under the Ottomans, a tradition had developed of building houses that were modest from the outside but elaborately decorated inside. In Cairo, Damascus and elsewhere, away from the complex religious dynamic of Jerusalem, British artists portrayed Islamic culture more sympathetically. Daily prayers in the great mosques, gatherings for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and the study of the Qur'an were all frequent subjects. In Egypt, Roberts was officially required to wear local clothing while visiting mosques, but he dressed in his Western European clothes during the voyages on the Nile.