The First Map of the Strait of Magellan, 1520


The first circumnavigation of the globe was the voyage of 1519–22 by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521), undertaken in the service of Spain. The only known first-hand account of the voyage is the journal by Venetian nobleman and scholar Antonio Pigafetta (circa 1480–1534). Four manuscript versions of Pigafetta’s journal survive, three in French and one in Italian. Pigafetta also made 23 beautiful, hand-drawn color maps, a complete set of which accompanies each of the manuscripts. Shown here is Pigafetta’s map of the Strait of Magellan, as reproduced in Carlo Amoretti’s 1800 edition of the only Pigafetta manuscript in Italian. Amoretti (1741–1816) was an Italian priest, writer, scholar, and scientist, who, as a conservator at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, discovered the manuscript, which was long thought to be lost. Amoretti published the Italian text with notes in 1800, and a French translation the following year. The map depicts the southern part of South America, including the Strait of Magellan, discovered on the voyage.

Last updated: October 19, 2015