Kingdom of Galicia


The first printed map of Galicia with dedicated cartographic plotting was the “Descripción del Reyno de Galizia” (Description of the Kingdom of Galicia) by Hernando Ojea (circa 1560‒1615). That map appeared in the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the world) of Abraham Ortelius (1527‒98), in the edition by Antwerp publisher Jan Baptista Vrients of 1603. The map, despite its many errors, was not soon improved on, and was copied many times, giving rise to a long well-documented history. The version of the map presented here, "Gallaecia Regnum" (Kingdom of Gallicia), comes from the fourth edition of the Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas Sive Cosmographicae Meditationes De Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura (Atlas of the world by Gerard Mercator: finely engraved and drawn), published around 1611 by Jodocus Hondius (1563‒1612) following the work of Gerhard Mercator (1512‒94). It is on a scale similar to the original and maintains the general configuration and the disproportion of some areas, but some slight changes are introduced in the profile of the western coast of Galicia, and in the larger number of mountains. The map title, legend, cardinal directions, and neighboring territories are given in Latin; the Atlantic is labeled Oceanus Occidentalis (Western Ocean). Place-names are in Spanish. Two of the most significant buildings shown are the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the Tower of Hercules at La Coruña—the only fully preserved Roman lighthouse still in use for maritime signaling and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Scale is expressed in the legend in two units of measurement: seven Spanish leagues, and six German common miles, each equal to 6.2 centimeters. The verso, pages 117‒18 from the Hondius-Mercator atlas, shows text in French entitled "Galice," with an ornate capital, and marginal headings. The text gives information about Galicia’s climate, livestock, politics and government, towns, rivers, ports, mountains, and the major churches and public figures of Santiago de Compostela.

Last updated: June 2, 2017