Civitatie Orbis Terrarum: [Plan of Algiers] (Biblioteca Nacional de España) [123]

Georg Braun, Frans Hogenberg

Acción Cultural Española, AC/E

Acción Cultural Española, AC/E
Madrid, Spain

When the coast of Catalonia was in sight, the galley El Sol in which Miguel de Cervantes was travelling with his brother Rodrigo was captured by Barbary pirates. Cervantes spent five years in Algiers, a city totally unlike the Europe with which the author was familiar. The thousand adventures he experienced during these five years are known in detail through a document which some critics hold to have been written by Cervantes himself – the Información de Argel (1580) – and through scattered information provided in the verses of the Epístola a Mateo Vázquez (1577) (Letter to Mateo Vázquez). These are the foundations on which the life story of Cervantes the character was progressively built.
The more than 47 indications in the lower part (written in Italian) specifying the city’s most important buildings, constructions and streets give an idea of the complexity of Algiers when Cervantes arrived there as a captive. At the time Algiers was much larger than Rome or Palermo and had an estimated population of 120,000 inhabitants, more than half of whom were renegades. A land of opportunities. A land of possibilities.

Scan digital page 123


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