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Antique Print of Cusco: Die Statt Cusco / so die fuernemeste im Landt Peru ist. Munster, 1550
Antique Print of Mexico City: Die Statt Cusco / so die fuernemeste im Landt Peru ist. Munster, 1550
Load image into Gallery viewer, Antique Print of Cusco: Die Statt Cusco / so die fuernemeste im Landt Peru ist. Munster, 1550
Load image into Gallery viewer, Antique Print of Mexico City: Die Statt Cusco / so die fuernemeste im Landt Peru ist. Munster, 1550

1550 Die Statt Cusco/so die fuernemeste im Landt Peru ist.

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By: Sebastien Münster

Date: 1550 (circa) Basel

Dimensions: 11.75 x 14.8 inches (29.85 x 37.6 cm)

This splendid bird's-eye-view of Cusco is one of the earliest maps of European origin of the city to become available, during the Age of Discovery.

Highly detailed, the map depicts the ancient city while there were yet architectural vestiges of its Incan empire builders, for whom it had been the primary seat of government. The map appears to be based on the work of Venetian cartographer Benedetto Bordone, whose map was published in several editions.

The foundations of the ancient Incan temple of the sun, called Qoricancha by its builders, can be seen beneath a large Spanish-built church, indicating that the map was drawn following the Spanish conquest of the Incan nation. Before its near destruction during the conquest, Qoricancha had been one of the one of the most beautiful and most sacred of all temples of the Incan empire.

Pizarro described its exterior as being studded with gold plates with the temple’s environs including convents and dormitories for priests. He went on to say that he and his compatriots were taken by surprise by the beauty and sophistication of Cusco, marveling that the stonework of its many palaces and other major edifices surpassed that of contemporary Spanish work. As in many European cities, foundations of earlier buildings were preserved and used as a base for construction of more modern structures, and many are visible to this day.  

The city is shown surrounded by huge crenellated walls, with towers at each corner and at midway between them, with gates in each allowing entrance to the city. Small vignettes depict both scantily clad indigenous people and European-clad individuals, replete with armor and plumed helmets.

Following the plundering and rebuilding of the city, it soon  became an important mercantile center, as well as becoming the major center for Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. Its prosperity was due to local agriculture, animal husbandry, and mining, with its prosperity thanks to agriculture, cattle raising and mining. Colonists, primarily from Spain, constructed churches and convents, a cathedral and archdiocese, and a university.

The Verso: Map of Tenochtitlan and its Influence on Venetian Explorers

The verso depicts Tenochtitlan, the miraculous (to the Spanish) city in the middle of a lake, now known as Mexico City, on one side and on the other is the title page for the map of Cusco. The earliest known Europeans to visit Tenochtitlan were enthralled by the city, comparing it to Venice, with some even saying it outshone its Italian counterpart with its magnificence. 

The comparison led Venetian explorers and travelers to become interested in the wealthy city and its treasures. Venetian cartographers were intrigued by the wealth and sophistication of the city and some of their early maps depict the city as it was before being virtually razed by Spanish conquistadores led by Hernán Cortés. This map depicts a combination of vestiges of the ancient city along with European-inspired architectural edifices which would have been built during the reconstruction of the city.  

Condition: Map is in B+ condition in its original, uncolored state with a few faint areas of foxing but no holes and one marginal tear that has been mended on the verso. Margins are full on all sides and the verso provides a clean map of Tenochtitlan.

Inventory #12674

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