Geometric Chart of Galicia: Divided into the Provinces of La Coruña, Lugo, Orense, and Pontevedra; and Subdivided by Judicial Districts and Town Councils


Domingo Fontán (1788‒1866), a leading figure of his day in Galicia, was a polymath—a mathematician, geographer, philosopher, and politician—who, with the work presented here, created the first scientific topographical map of Galicia. It was based on the method of geodesic triangulation, which Fontán had developed. He began work on the project in 1817 but did not receive official support for it until about 12 years later. It took Fontán until 1834 to complete his chart, which is inscribed “Presentada en 1834 a S.M. La Reina Gobernadora Doña Maria Cristina de Borbon (Presented in 1834 to Her Majesty, the Queen Regent, Doña Maria Cristina de Borbon). The work was not printed until 1845, by which time Fontán had made some corrections and enhancements to the original manuscript. He moved to Paris to oversee the printing process, for which 12 lithographic plates were engraved on stone by L. Bouffard; the chart was printed by Joseph Lemercier. The scale of 1:100,000 is also expressed in leagues of 20,000 feet, and miles in degrees and in thousands of meters (kilometers). An explanatory key appears on the last page. The Carta geométrica de Galicia (Geometric chart of Galicia), despite its high quality, accuracy, and detail, did not receive the distribution it deserved and was not even considered an "official map." Its ultimate recognition was due mainly to the influence it had on geographers such as Francisco de Coello (1822‒98), whose debt to Fontán he acknowledged in the maps of the Galician provinces in his Atlas de España y sus posesiones de ultramar (Atlas of Spain and its overseas possessions). It is through these later maps that Fontán’s work became, albeit indirectly, known to the public.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Lemercier & Company, Paris


Title in Original Language

Carta geométrica de Galicia dividida en sus provincias de Coruña, Lugo, Orense, Pontevedra y subdividida en Partidos y Ayuntamientos

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map in 12 sections : lithograph, black-and-white ; 63 x 90 centimeters


  • Scale approximately 1:100,000

Last updated: December 8, 2016