Catalan Atlas

Abraham Cresques1375

Naval Museum

Naval Museum
Madrid, Spain

This nautical chart or "portolan" with 12 colored sheets, also known as the "Catalan Atlas", is attributed to Abraham Cresques. Four sheets contain detailed information about cosmography and navigation, including a perpetual calendar produced around 1375. It covers an area spanning the Atlantic archipelagos, the Canaries, possibly the Azores, and the African coast, all the way to the island of Japan. Its wide coverage could have been what led Cresques to include a new element in medieval nautical cartography which would subsequently become commonplace: the wind rose. In this document (their first appearance), wind roses are shown in color with the 8 principal winds and the cardinal points.

Medieval "portolan charts" (also called "portulan charts") were cartographic instruments that, together with other nautical equipment such as compasses, became indispensable tools allowing ships to move safely around the Mediterranean coastline. They were first made in the Middle Ages (13th century) and were produced until the Early Modern Period. They were originally made in a region of the Mediterranean where there were intensive political, commercial, and cultural links between cities, including major map production centers such as Majorca, Genoa, and Venice. This is one of the most important pieces from the Majorcan school.


  • Title: Catalan Atlas
  • Creator: Abraham Cresques
  • Date Created: 1375
  • Location Created: Mallorca, Spain
  • Provenance: Abraham Cresques was a cartographer and navigational instrument maker who, with the help of his son, Jafuda, made this atlas on the orders of Peter IV to present to the future King Charles V of France. The Naval Museum owns this reproduction of the original, which is now kept at the National Library of France in Paris.
  • Type: Facsimile
  • Original Source: Museo Naval Madrid.
  • Rights: Museo Naval, Madrid - All Rights Reserved
  • Medium: Printed paper
  • Width: 324cm
  • Height: 68cm

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