Portolan Chart of the Pacific Coast from Guatemala to Northern Peru with the Galapagos Islands


Presented here is a detailed Spanish portolan chart on vellum of the Pacific Coast from Guatemala to northern Peru, including the Galapagos Islands. The face of the map, shown first, has a long axis extending east and west and wind roses with fleur-de-lis indicators pointing north. A distance scale at top right is partly torn away; a latitude scale, from 17 degrees north to about nine degrees south, is also damaged. The abundant coastal nomenclature is carefully written, and many coastal features, towns, and settlements are indicated. Stylized architectural drawings of buildings and groups of buildings with flags represent inland towns and cities. Three of these places  are identified as "qujto," "granada," and "leon." The chart also includes decorative drawings of four large birds and a tree. Researchers at the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress concluded that the map probably “was not made until after the year 1561 because it contains the name Landecho for a village in Guatemala. This village seems to have been so designated for a president of the Audiencia of Guatemala, named Landecho, who assumed office in 1561.” The map has been trimmed to a rough rectangle and matted and mounted between sheets of transparent Lucite. The second image shows the map’s reverse side.

Date Created

Subject Date


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 manuscript map : color, on vellum ; 35 x 64 centimeters


  1. Ristow, Walter W. and R.A. Skelton, Nautical Charts on Vellum in the Library of Congress (Washington: Library of Congress, 1977).
  2. “The Luso-Hispanic World in Maps,” number 28, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/luso/westhem.html.

Last updated: March 24, 2015