By: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg
Date: 1574 (Published) Cologne
Dimensions: 12.75 x 18.5 (32.43 x 47 cm)
This Braun and Hogenberg engraving is from the second edition of their monumental oeuvre, Civitates Orbis Terrarum. On one sheet are depicted the capitals of four important islands of the Mediterranean - Cagliari (Sardinia), Valletta (Malta), Rhodes and Famagusta (Cyprus). The four cities chosen by Braun and Hogenberg have all played strategic roles in history from ancient antiquity to the modern era.
Cagliari, inhabited since Neolithic times, has been an important port and center of commerce throughout its history. At one point it was one in a string of Phoenician colonies, and the city has seen the rule of countless civilisations. This bird’s eye view shows the division of the city into four distinct districts. The Castello district within the inner city walls is the area of original ancient settlement, from which the city had expanded by 1574 to include three partially walled suburbs. Within the Castello is the cathedral of Santa Maria di Castello, the viceroy’s palace, and the town hall. The city has been prosperous more often than not throughout its long history, and modern Cagliari is Sardinia’s economic and industrial hub, boasting one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean.
Malta, an island country located in the central Mediterranean is small but strategically important. Throughout its long and turbulent history Malta has played a vital role in the countless struggles of succession for political domination of the Mediterranean, and in the emerging development of European power as it replaced that of the older cultures of Africa and the Middle East. The map shows its strongly fortified Harbour, with Fort St Elma on the left, Fort Sant’Angelo across the water to its right, and star-shaped Fort St Michael farther to the right. The town depicted here was founded in 1566 by a Grand Master of the Order of St John. The island was under the rule of the Knights Hospitaller, aka the Knights of Malta, until its conquest by Napoleonic troops in 1789.
Rhodes is well known for having had the Colossus, one of the wonders of the ancient world. With its triple city land walls as depicted here it would seem to have been an absolutely impregnable city before the advent of modern armaments. Inhabited from time immemorial, the island has been an important economic center since early antiquity due to its location just off the coast of Asia Minor at the point where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet. Its capital city, also called Rhodes, was built no later than 408 B.C. Its site was chosen to take advantage of the island’s best natural harbor on its northern coast. Though the city has expanded extensively throughout the ages, the remains of many important architectural edifices of antiquity are yet extant, including remnants of temples, stoas, an agora, extensive private housing and tombs.
Famagusta, on the island of Cyprus, is depicted in the fourth engraving. Its name is thought to be a Frankish corruption of its Greek name which means ‘buried in the sand’, an apt description for the site of the silted up mouth of the Pedieos River just to the north of Famagusta. The city was founded during the reign of Macedonian-Egyptian king Ptolemy II, and named Arsinoe, and was perhaps founded due to having the deepest harbor of the island. The village experienced an influx of Christians fleeing the downfall of Acre in 1291, transforming it into one of the richest cities in Christendom. It proved an ideal location for Crusaders, and Lusignan kings chose its cathedral in which to be crowned. The port was seized by the Genoese in 1372, and by Venice in 1489, when it was made the capital of Cyprus and underwent major architectural remodeling, including extensive defensive construction. The walls are fifty feet high and twenty-seven feet thick. Famagusta fell to the Ottomans after a prolonged siege which saw the small city with eight thousand men and only ninety artillery pieces fend off an Ottoman force of more than two hundred thousand with 145 guns for more than eleven months.
Latin text on the verso.
Condition: This lovely hand colored map is in B+ condition. Minor soiling at the edges and centerfold.
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