1721 Gemelli Map of Mexico City, Mexico
Description: This unusual 1721 map, drawn by Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri, depicts Mexico City as it appeared in the late 17th century. Oriented to the east and centered on the insular Mexico City, Gemelli's map covers from Pachuca to Tepoztlan and from Tlalnepantla to Xochimilco. The map features 'A Burning Mountain', most likely Popocatepetl, in the upper right quadrant. Though some of the geography is skewed, this map is notable for its striking contrast with modern Mexico City, in which the majestic lakes of Mexico, Chalco, Xal, and Nueba are buried under the city's infamous urban sprawl. This map was published in the 1721 Italian edition of Gemelli's A Voyage Round the World.
Date: 1721 (undated)
Source: Gemelli Careri, G. F., Giro del Mondo de Dottor D. Gio: Francesco Gemelli Careri., (Naples) 1721
Cartographer: Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri (1651-1725) was a seventeenth century Italian adventurer and traveler. Gemelli Careri was born in a middle class family in Taurianova, Italy, 1651, and died in Naples in 1725. He obtained a doctorate in law at the College of Jesuits in Naples. After completing his studies he briefly entered the judiciary. In 1685 he took time off to travel around Europe (France, Spain, Germany, and Hungary). In 1687 he returned to Naples and re-entered the judiciary. He also began work on his first two books: Relazione delle Campagne d'Ungheria (1689) with co-author Matteo Egizio, and "Viaggi in Europa" (1693). At this time Gemelli experience growing frustrations with the legal profession when he was denied certain opportunities because he did not have an established aristocratic origin. Eventually, he decided to suspend his career for a round-the-world trip. This five year journey would lead to his best known six-volume book, Giro Intorno al Mondo (1699). Gemelli financed his round-the-world venture via various minor merchant ventures, purchasing valuable goods at each strange of the trip. Starting in Egypt he traveled through the Middle East eventually making his way across Armenia and Persia to India and thence to China, where he was introduced to the Emperor. From China he hopped aboard a trading vessel on its way to the Philippines and, crossing the Pacific on a Spanish galleon, landed in Mexico. In Mexico, the Italian traveler became a celebrity by the simple expedient of telling his anecdotes over and over to the local aristocrats. His insatiable curiosity would take him beyond the capital, visiting several mining towns and the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan. Gemelli became fascinated with pre-Columbian culture and dedicated a considerable time and energy to researching studying in Mexico. On his return to Europe in 1699 Gemelli published Giro Intorno al Mondo. Though instantly popular, by the late 18th century his travels were lumped with Mandeville's and presumed to be fictional. Following in Gemelli's footsteps a century later Alexander von Humboldt found that the Italian's lawyer's description of Mexico was so accurate and detailed it could only have been obtained by first hand experience - thus vindicating Gemelli's writings. Gemelli was famously among the first Europeans to tour the world using public transportation; his travels, undertaken for pleasure rather than profit, may have inspired Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days Click here for a list of rare maps by Gemelli.
Size: Printed area measures 9 x 7.5 inches (22.86 x 19.05 centimeters)
Condition: Very good. Original platemark visible. Original fold lines visible. Blank on verso.
Code: Mexico-gemelli-1721 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)
Tags: Gemelli , City Plan , Speculative Cartography