Exhibition shows early mapmaking

Nesvizh museum hosts Belarus: 16th-18th Century Cartographic Sources exhibition of maps

By Nadezhda Radionova

The exhibition is being organised as part of the Nesvizh: Cultural Capital of Belarus 2012 Republican campaign. It showcases original exhibits, as well as digital copies, and features 15 maps. The most interesting is the first large-scale map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, called the ‘Radziwill map’, dating from 1613 and commissioned by one of the richest magnates of the time — Mikolaj Krzysztof Radziwill (Sierotka). Its information was collated in the late 16th-early 17th century, in Nesvizh.

The full version of the map comprises two parts: the map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania itself and that of the lower course of the River Dnieper, with rifts. In total, it indicates 1,039 settlements, including 544 in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; 342 of these are on Belarusian territory. All inscriptions are in Latin — referring to historical data, or making comments on settlements or giving other information.

The ‘Radziwill map’ represents a momentous step in European mapmaking and was the most popular source on the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in European mapmaking for two centuries.

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