By: Benedetto Bordone
Date: 1528 (Published) Venice
Dimensions: 6.25 x 6.25 inches (15.9 x 15.9 cm)
This rare 16th century woodcut is from the publication Isolario, a book published by Benedetto Bordone as early as 1528. The map depicts Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire as it appeared to conquistador Hernan Cortes when he took control of the city in 1521 and in fact the map is based on the original rendering of the city by Cortes.
When Cortes entered the city the population was estimated to be over 300,000, making it far larger than the largest city in Europe of that time. Built on manmade islands within Lake Texcoco, the city was centered around a great temple. Cortes wrote that 60,000 visitors made their way to the city each day. The grandeur of Tenochtitlan amazed all Europeans who saw it. Observers remarked on the great number of buildings and towers seeming to rise from the water, all of which were built of masonry. Some soldiers wondered if it were not a dream upon which they gazed.
Despite its beauty and grandeur, the city was virtually razed to the ground, as Cortes ordered that the temples be dismantled and the materials used to build what would become present day Mexico City.
Originally intended as a guide for sailors, the Isolario includes illustrated maps which are among the earliest printed maps of the regions depicted, including important islands and ports throughout the Mediterranean and other parts of the world. Accompanying text is in Italian.
Condition: This woodcut is in B+ condition with damp staining in the upper right quadrant.
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