A very fine and rare Lafreri-school map of Rhodes by Natale Bonifacio.
The map features three excellent scrollwork frames. In the upper left is an elaborate strap-work frame with the title LI SAVII DE RHODI and two columns with fourteen names of Rhodian scholars.
Opposite in the upper right corner another frame includes the heading GLI ARTEFICI DI RHODI ILLVSTRI, giving the names of three sculptors and one painter.
In this way the map serves a dual function as a kind of presentation of the history and culture of the island.
A clear highlight of the map is its depiction of the port city of Rhodes, achieved with a bird’s-eye topographical view. One can image sailing towards the city from the sea, awestruck by the colossal statue of Helios, the Rhodian sun god, towering above the entrance to the port in the Hellenistic period. The statue is mentioned in the title cartouche in the lower left corner of the map.
The general shape of the island, often compared to a spearhead, is fairly accurate, although Rhodes city should be situated at the northern tip of the island.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands of Greece and is also the island group’s historical capital. Because of its strategic location between the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, Rhodes has played an important role throughout world history. At the time of the creation of this map, the island was in Ottoman hands, having been taken from the Knights Hospitaller by the forces of Suleiman the Magnificent.
Below left of the the title cartouche is the date In Venetia 1570 and the signature of N. Bonifacio, which is weakly visible. Bottom right is a large and beautiful compass rose placed in the sea.