About Iconography and Cartography in Renaissance Travel to Constantinople

Toni Veneri


During the Renaissance, Venice acquired a leading role as a publishing centre and as a gathering place for geographical and cartographical information. New historical and cultural conditions, such as the rise of the Ottoman Empire and the secularization of the discourse on travel, lead to the possibility of adapting the traditional scheme of the pilgrimage to an itinerary for which the final destination represented a political utopia (Constantinople) rather than a religious one (Jerusalem).

The traditional features of the pious journey thus came to a negotiation with new spatial paradigms emerging through the cartographical renewal, the development of the printing industry, and the invention of geopolitics. The high symbolic investment of the Republic in this journey not only had strong political, ideological and economic meanings, but also a crucial geographical relevance. From one perspective, as typical of the Venetian genre of the isolario, drawing on the notion of the microcosm, the itinerary becomes fragmented and cartographically idealized to represent an inventory of Venetian maritime possessions. From another, the marvel awakened in travellers  from the Ottoman capital, referring to their descriptions and narrations in a process of secularization launched by Marco Polo, enhances the material presence in places where the political power seems to have reached levels of utopian perfection – places Michel Foucault would name heterotopias.



Microcosm; Heterotopia; Cartography; Travel literature; Renaissance; Venice; Constantinople


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/277

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17617

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