The Castiglioni World Map is a large nautical map drawn on four sheets of vellum joined together to make up a single 81.5 × 214 cm sheet. ‘Universal’ indicates the description of the whole then-known world, and ‘accurate’, the particular technical care employed by the cartographer. The map has been attributed to Diego Ribeiro, head cartographer of the Casa de Contratación in Seville – the office of the Spanish crown authorised to compile innovations in official nautical maps deriving from discoveries. It is of great interest in that it is the first document of this kind to visualize the theories of the sphericity of the Earth.
An Authoritative Geographic Map
The Planisphere originated from an outstanding cultural milieu, producing maps destined to the control of trade with the Indies rather than to a popularisation of geographic knowledge. The maps signed by Ribeiro, of which this one is among the oldest examples, referred to a prototype called ‘Padrón Real’.
The map was donated by Emperor Charles V to Baldassarre Castiglioni (1478-1529), author of the Cortegiano and apostolic nuncio; it remained the property of Counts Castiglioni until 2000, when the Italian State acquired it and assigned it to the Estense Library.
The world map has been placed in a specially made showcase and displayed in the ‘Campori’ room of the Estense Library, together with other important objects relating to the history of cartography, on the occasion of the event ‘Discovering the World. The Art of Cartography from Ptolemy to Mercator’ (January-May 2002).