Cuzco (Inca capital)

by Giovanni Battista Ramusio

Rare first edition (block later destroyed by fire)


Date of first edition: 1556

Date of this map: 1556

Dimensions (not including margins): 37 x 26,5 cm

Dimensions (including margins): 42,5 x 30,5 cm

Condition: very good. Sharp woodcut engraving printed on strong paper. Wide margins.

Condition rating: A+

Verso: blank

Map reference: Nordenskiold 3,641 II (3)

From: Raccolta di Navigationi et Viaggi

Item number:
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The city of Cusco was initially founded at some point during the 10th or 11th centuries AD by the local Killke people, though by the 13th century, they had been subsumed by the growing Inca Empire. Under the Inca, the city became the Imperial capital for almost three hundred years. The centre of Inca government, society, and trade, Cusco was one of the most opulent cities in the world at the time of the Spanish conquest. Pizarro’s men arrived in 1533, quickly stripping the buildings of their gold facades, and dismantling Inca temples and sacred spaces. Despite the despoliation, the Spaniards were overcome by the craftsmanship of the Inca, marveling that their stonework in particular surpassed any European example of the day. In a matter of years, the city was transformed by the conquerors, blending local art and architecture with colonial Spanish churches, casas, and public monuments. The first printed image of Cusco appeared in Pedro Cieza de Leon’s Cronica del Peru in 1553, beginning a sixteenth century fascination with the city and its Aztec cousin, Tenochtitlan.

Original title: Il Cuscho Citta Principale Della Provincia del Peru

Giovanni Battista Ramusio

Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485-1557) was an Italian geographer, translator, author, and publisher. He is best known for the large series of traveler’s accounts that he compiled, translated, and published as the Delle navigationi e Viaggi. The first volumes appeared during the 1550s, and were republished, added to, and translated into other languages throughout the second half of the sixteenth century.

This map was later copied by Sebastian Münster. The major difference between the two blocks can be seen in the title at top. Where the original Ramusio title is emblazoned on an oriflamme, the Münster ribbon ends in a simple curl.