Jerusalem on the Catalan Atlas by Cresques vs Santo Sepulcro by Anonymous


Just wanted to point out an interesting difference on virtually similar 14th century maps. It is easy to dismiss little things like that, but remember that "devil is in the details." The maps I'm talking about are famous Catalan portolan type depictions of the Earth. The primary purpose of these maps was sea/ocean navigation.

Catalan Atlas by Cresques
The Catalan Atlas is the most important map of the medieval period in the Catalan language (drawn and written in 1375). It was produced by the Majorcan cartographic school and is attributed to Cresques Abraham, a Jewish book illuminator who was self-described as a master of the maps of the world as well as compasses. It has been in the royal library of France (now the Bibliothèque nationale de France) since the time of King Charles V. The Catalan Atlas originally consisted of six vellum leaves (each circa 65cm by 50cm) folded vertically, painted in various colors including gold and silver. These were cut in half later, and mounted on wooden panels enclosed in a leather binding.
The first two leaves contain texts in Catalan covering cosmography, astronomy, and astrology. These texts are accompanied by illustrations. The texts and illustrations provide information to sailors on tides and how to tell time at night.
The four remaining leaves make up the actual map, with Jerusalem located close to the centre; two depict the Orient and the remaining two Europe and North Africa. The map is around 1.3 square metres in size. The map shows illustrations of many cities, Christian cities with a cross, other cities with a dome, and with each city's political allegiance indicated by a flag. Wavy blue vertical lines are used to symbolize oceans. Place names of important ports are transcribed in red, while others are indicated in black. The illustrations and most of the text are oriented towards the edges of the map, suggesting it was intended to be used by laying it flat and walking around it.

Original Version
11,811 × 3,850 pixels

Improved Version
8,000 × 2,598 pixels

Catalan Chart by Cresques
Anonymous Catalan chart, possibly made in the atelier of Cresques Abraham of Majorca, c. 1400.
The last link above contains translations of the legends of the Catalan Atlas as they appear in the different panels.

KD: On the map done by Cresques we can clearly see that the city is called Jerusalem.


On the map attributed to some anonymous cartographer the city of Jerusalem is presented as Santo Sepulcro.


Obviously there is no real contradiction there. Santo Sepulcro when translated from Latin means Holy Sepulcher, which is supposed to be the Church of the Holy Sepulcher located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. If you get real technical there, you would have to replace "church" with "tomb".

Obviously, I'm still entertaining the idea of the true Jerusalem being located somewhere else. In this regard, what is your opinion on this "name game"? Why would this Anonymous cartographer choose Santo Sepulcro over Jerusalem?


Well-known member
No idea where Jerusalem is, but it is amazing how the flags do not line up with our history.

Flag of Nice France.

Greece is somewhere on the Rhine.

Poland is using the Kotwica. Not invented until 1942.

There are still cities in the Sahara.

And the little people are still at war with the birds in central Asia.


Well-known member
On the actual topic about Jerusalem, perhaps the name was used as a general name for specific kind of places. Also people in the old days either lacked creativity with coming up names where they lived or they had such a lot of migration and movement that they just liked to bring their home with them and call it with the same name. Like we have a couple of Babylons and not to forget New Amsterdam / York.

^ Wonder if there could be some sort of trace found out of the movement following those maps efficiently.

I'm still however on the board that the biblical Jerusalem actually meant Constantinople, but with this topic I'm open up to anything.

About some of those old maps in general I've been wondering why so often the European cities have been drawn to be so small and almost everything else as being being drawn out of proportions outside of it. If I try to force myself to think for such a motivation it could've have been made to have a a psychological effect to make European people feel smaller and less confident, but what would that make of the map creator? Of course there's so much stuff in Europe and very little room so you can't do that, but where is Italian Rome or at least Vatican, they should have had a huge effect on the world as did Constantinople. Is that also Venice that is called Panonia?

Also why is Britannia colored violet / purple? I know what I associate the colors violet / purple with.

These need to be studied carefully. Thanks for posting these.

ps. A quick and fun flow of the mind here when I made a quick google trying to figure out what Jerusalem actually means.

a) Salem means complete, peaceful, whole, friendly

b) No proper word for Jeru found, but close in c)

c) Judges 6:32? Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, "Let Baal contend against him," because he broke down his altar. {Judges 6:28-32 (ESV)}

Jeru_salem = Anti complete, Anti Peaceful, Anti Whole, Anti friendly?-) Jerusalem a place for the enemy of peace? Haha, I'm not claiming this, just writing down flow of the mind, because there's no harm either. Perhaps it will spark someone to look deeper.
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Well-known member
It could be something as simple as...he was a Christian who didn't like bagel eaters nor the new inhabitants of the area...