A Modern Map of Spain


Nova Hispaniae Descriptio (A modern map of Spain) is the first map bordered by cartouches, one of the most attractive developments of 17th century Dutch cartography. Cartouches were used to supplement the geographical information provided by a map as well as to add aesthetic appeal. In this map, which is based on a plate made by Gerard Mercator (1512–94), the cartographic image is surrounded by plans, city views, and characters in the dress of the day. The top margin includes views of the cities of Alhama, Granada, Bilbao, Burgos, Vélez-Málaga, and Écija. In the bottom are shown Lisbon, Toledo, Sevilla, and Valladolid. In the bottom right corner is a Renaissance cartouche crowned by the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Spain, flanked with two seated male figures and decorated by three figureheads. On the sides, three female and three male figures in distinctive costumes represent the nobility, merchant, and peasant classes. In the bottom margin is a medallion with the portrait of King Philip III of Spain and an inscription with the king’s name. In the bottom left corner, the scale appears in a pedestal below the emblem of the publishing house. The publisher, Jodocus Hondius (1563–1612), was an acclaimed Flemish printer who lived in Amsterdam and specialized in the production of maps and globes. He was a friend of Gerard Mercator and edited his atlas. In 1604, Hondius purchased Mercator’s plates from his heirs and published a new edition of the atlas, which was constantly expanded and became quite popular in the 17th century. This map is not dated, but the portrait of King Philip III of Spain (1598–1621) and Hondius’s date of death suggest it was published around 1610.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information



Title in Original Language

Nova Hispaniae Descriptio

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map: print, color, 42 x 57 centimeters


  • Scale 1:2.700,000. 30 Leucarum Hispanicarum = 6 centimeters. Relief shown by outlining mountains and hachures. Coasts marked by fine shading.

Last updated: February 12, 2016