Saturday, July 7, 2012

A further glimpse into Rome - part 2

The map of Malta as seen from Rome, by Ignazio Danti

Continuing my tour of Rome, today I introduce you to one of the most fascinating section of the Vatican Museum. The Gallery of Maps (Italian: Galleria delle carte geografiche) is a gallery located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard in the Vatican containing a series of painted topographical maps of Italy based on drawings by friar and geographer Ignazio Danti from Perugia. The galley was commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII as part of other artistic works commissioned by the Pope to decorate the Vatican. It took Danti three years (1580–1583) to complete the 40 panels of the 120 meters long gallery. It remains the world's largest pictorial geographical study.

The capital city of Malta, Valletta, depicted in incredible detail
Among the panels is one dedicated to the island of Malta, including intricate detail of the Great Siege which took place in 1565 between the Ottamon Empire and the Maltese. Thanks to the Knights of Malta, who built strong fortifications around the island, we beat the heck out of the Turks! 
The Great Siege of Malta - 1565, as depicted by Ignazio Danti
Since the Great Siege took place only 15 years prior to the project, Danti was able to depict fascinating details of the actual battle, as you can see from these photos I took during my recent visit to the Vatican Museums.


  1. Thank you for these great photos of Danti's maps, and explanations. Is there an image of their creator, Ignazio Danti?

    1. There is a painting of Ignazio Danti, Bishop of Alatri, (1536-1586) with an attendant biography at wikipedia. It would appear he was made bishop (1583) right after finishing his work on the Gallery (1580-83).

  2. There is a short battle scene description from the Great Siege of 1565 at the beginning of M.J. Trow's Christopher Marlowe Mystery series, Secret World and I went a-hunting online to find some images. Your posts of these maps at the Vatican Museum and their credit to Ignazio Danti, are the best I've found. Thank you for including the history of Danti and the commission of the work by Pope Gregory XIII in 1580, too.