Tag Archives: polar regions antique map

Fantasizing about the Earth’s Poles

travel decor map art

Map of the Polar Regions, 1690.

This map shows how people thought the Polar Regions looked before there were explored. The North Pole is marked Pole Septentrional Arctique on this map. Septentrional means “North” and the name is derived from the seven stars of the Big Plough constellation. It is clear from the map that the northern coast of Greenland, Svalbard and other islands in the Arctic Ocean were yet to be explored and mapped. The area around the South Pole on this map is captured as “Terra Magellanique Australis”, with Australis meaning south and Magellanique referring to the Portuguese explorer Fernando Magellan who explored the southern passage between Antarctica and Southern America. It was sometimes also called Terra Australis Incognita (The unknown land of the South), The Cold Land or Megallonica and it was a mythical land. Its existence was not based on any direct exploration, but rather on the theory that the land mass to the north should be balanced by a similar mass to the south. The Antipodes of Paris is marked on the map. This map is beautifully illustrated with pictures from Greek mythology. For example, there is the Horn of Plenty in the bottom left corner.

To touch the spirit of Antarctica, read Sara Wheeler’s “Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica”.

Buy restored reproduction of this map printed on a high quality handmade paper here.