The article is the first to introduce into scholarly discourse the unpublished journal of S.I.Turgenev (1792–1827) from the Turgenev brothers’ archive at the Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which is a unique collection of manuscripts related to the history of Russian-European cultural relations in the first half of the 19th century. Turgenev’s journal dates back to 1811, when he, a young ‘liberal,’ a future diplomat, studied at the University of Göttingen and during his vacation travelled to ‘French’ Holland to see with his own eyes Napoleon, who arrived in Amsterdam almost at the same time as the Russian student. The deciphered text contains a lot of valuable observations about the everyday life of the Dutch people of that time, about the organization of socially important public institutions (hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, etc.), about the practical side of organizing travel for foreigners, and also includes reflections on the nature of political obedience, on optimal forms of government in general and for Holland in particular. Of special interest here is the description of the reception given by the people of Amsterdam to the French Emperor, whom the Russian traveller regards as the greatest conqueror and at the same time the greatest monarch. The journal allows us to trace how his first-hand observations become the basis for creating a personal image of Holland, which is further enriched and modified on the basis of information obtained from books (O. Goldsmith, A. Smith, etc.). The journal shows how all sorts of diverse impressions interact to form a significant intellectual arsenal of a Russian liberal, who is a convinced European. We can see how important this intellectual arsenal becomes for his further individual and professional development, as evidenced by the later journals of S.I.Turgenev, relating to 1815, when he served in Paris, as a member of the Russian expeditionary force, and worked on a draft constitution for Russia.