IBERIAN ATLAS OF PEDRO TEXEIRA (1634)
The Portuguese territory plates
detailed atlas of the harbours and littoral towns of the Iberian Peninsula was comissioned in 1622 to the Portuguese geographer Pedro Teixeira by the Spanish king Felipe IV. (both countries
where united under Spanish rule between 1580 and 1640).
The result, "Descripcion de España y de las costas y puertos de sus reinos", was finished in 1634 but became lost (except for the "literary description") until recently, when was found in Vienna, Austria.
The Vienna (or Pedro Teixeira's) Atlas is today one of the most important Iberian cartographic documents, essential to the knowledge of maritime history, cartography and coastal chorography of Spain and Portugal in the XVIIth century.
The atlas is composed of 88 vividly-coloured pseudo-perspectives of coastal areas, in large scales ranging from about 1:20,000 to 1:100,000, plus several smaller-scale chorographic maps of the Peninsular coast, the whole Iberia and the World.
The plates astonish by their modern three-dimensional concept, geographic detail, topological accuracy, cartographic beauty and artistic workmanship.
The work is a systematic survey of Iberian harbours from a geo-military point of view, in which the literary description fundaments and details the map information regarding quality and resources of ports and anchorages, depths and tides, artillery and fortifications, shipyards, forestry potential for shipbuilding and repair, demography and industries of coastal towns, places with previous piracy and naval military record, accurate name-places and a plethora of seaside and fluvial landmarks for orientation, navigation and defence.
Most of the plates are the oldest known larger scale land views of the represented towns, estuaries, coasts and capes, having therefore an extraordinary importance to the history of local settlement and littoral topography. Many of them show faithful generalizations of urban shapes and major built features, often represented on a larger scale.
Editor Nerea (www.nerea.net) published in 2002 a monumental facsimile version of the Atlas. This Spanish edition, named "El Atlas del Rey Planeta", also includes a new transcription of the literary description and several interpretative and analytical studies by a group of scholars.
With the editor's kind permission, Campo Arqueológico de Tavira (a non-profit archaeological association of South Portugal) presents on its site www.arqueotavira.com/Mapas/Texeira/, a digital version of the 22 plates representing the Portuguese coast and territory.
Several other antique maps of Algarve and Southern
Portugal may be consulted on the same site, at www.arqueotavira.com/Mapas/.
From the XVI to XIXth centuries, most of them are rare and until now of difficult access, never before published digitally or seen in such large magnifications.
Their collection forms a fundamental framework of regional study and reconstitution of settlement, toponimy, coastal change and the evolution of local road systems.
A basic domain of the Spanish language will be adequate to grasp the meaning of the Portuguese texts and legends.
Copyright 2003-2005, Associação Campo Arqueológico de Tavira, Portugal