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The Atlas Maior By Joan Blaeu


Long before the advent of photography, aeroplanes, rockets and satellites, human imagination was relying on clever people’s craftmanship such as carthography when it came to envisioning a picture of the world, its continents and islands.

The map of Mallorca and the Insulae Balearides et Pytiusae by a Dutchman, Joan Blaeu (shown below) is not the oldest map known of Mallorca but dating from 1635 it is pretty much one of the older ones.

This map of the archipelago was published in 1635 by Joan Blaeu’s father (Willem Janszoon Blaeu) in Amsterdam and later included in his Atlas Maior from 1662.

A very beautiful reprint of this massive Atlas Maior tome by Joan Blaeu is published by Taschen publishers and is available in some bookshops in Palma de Mallorca (€ 100). A thinner volume is edited by the same publishers as a reprint of an extract of the Atlas Maior, called Hispania, Portugallia, America et Africa, concentrating on the Iberian peninsula and the Spanish and Portuguese overseas possessions.


Previously I made a blog entry about the Atlas Catalán from 1375 by the Mallorcan cartographer Abraham Cresques. There, the Balearic Islands are shown only in a very small representation, rendering the archipelago barely visible. Here is a detail of the Atlas Catalán, showing parts of Europe, the Mediterranean Sea and Northern Africa:


For the sake of comparison, here is another rather nice Balearic map, Islas Baleares y Pithyusas, from the hand of Tomás López from Seville, Spain, published some 150 years after Joan Blaeu’s map in 1793. This map became part of the Atlas Geográfico de España by the very Tomás López, published in Madrid, 1804-1810:


Today’s photo was taken from the Internet, courtesy of ESA, the European Space Agency. Thank you very much. The images of the maps were all taken from the Alta Mar website. Muchas gracias.

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