Carte de l'Italie de la Galerie des Cartes du Vatican

The Vatican Map Gallery: A Cartographic and Artistic Treasure

In the heart of Vatican City is a true cartographic and artistic treasure: the Vatican Map Gallery. It is a unique place that houses an exceptional collection of beautifully illustrated historical maps covering the whole of Italy. In this article, we'll delve into the fascinating history of the Vatican Map Gallery, exploring its origin, contents, and importance to cartography and art.

The Vatican map Gallery : A Journey through Time and Space

The Vatican Map Gallery, or “Galleria delle Carte Geografiche” in Italian, is one of the little-known wonders of the Vatican. It extends over an impressive length of 120 meters, connecting the Belvedere Palace to the Apostolic Palace.

Commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII, its purpose was to display the cartographic knowledge of the Catholic Church and to strengthen its power by showing its influence on science and geography. By browsing this gallery, visitors have the impression of taking a journey through time and space, across the Italian peninsula.

The Work of Ignazio Danti in the vatican map Gallery : A Cartographic Tour de Force

The central element of the Vatican Map Gallery is undoubtedly the maps themselves. These cartographic works of art were created by Dominican friar Ignazio Danti, a prominent cartographer of the time. It took him three years to compose the 40 or so panels in the gallery. Each map illustrates in detail the main cities, ports and regions of Italy. One of these maps concerns the city of Avignon, which was the city of the popes for almost a century.

View of the Avignon map at the Vatican Map Gallery

Overview of the Avignon map

What sets these cards apart is their artistic nature. Each map is a work of art in itself, with decorative elements such as landscapes, monuments, boats and historical and mythological figures. The aim was to capture the beauty and diversity of Italy, both geographically and culturally.

The Contemporary Significance of the Vatican Map Gallery

Today, the Vatican Map Gallery is open to the public and attracts more than 5 million visitors per year. It is a place that arouses the admiration of history, art and cartography enthusiasts from around the world. However, due to its popularity, it is recommended to book your tickets in advance to avoid long queues.

The gallery underwent a major and meticulous renovation which lasted several years and was completed in 2016. This renovation made it possible to restore the splendor of the maps and to present this cartographic and artistic heritage in an optimal way.

Map of Corsica at the Vatican Map Gallery

Map of Corsica which is represented... upside down!

Visit the Vatican Map Gallery !

The Vatican Map Gallery is much more than a simple collection of maps. It is a testimony to the history, art and cartography of Italy during the Renaissance era. Each map is a work of art in itself, and together they offer a panoramic view of Italy in all its geographical and cultural splendor. If you have the opportunity to visit the Vatican, don't miss the opportunity to discover this extraordinary gallery and take a journey through time through Italian cartography and art. It's an experience you'll never forget!

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