Piri Reis’ world map on display at Topkapı Palace

Piri Reis’ world map on display at Topkapı Palace

Piri Reis’ world map on display at Topkapı Palace

A world map drawn by the famous Ottoman admiral, cartographer and sailor Piri Reis in 1513 has been put on display once again at Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace after a long break. The map on display is among the most important and interesting artifacts that have survived from the age of discoveries. The visitors’ interest in the exhibition is reported to be quite intense.

The 508-year-old world map, one of the most important works of world cartography, can be seen in the in the III. Ahmed Library, located in the third courtyard of Topkapı Palace.

The map, which was found in 1924 when the libraries in the palace were being cleaned, was registered seven years after it was found. Visitors show great interest in the map, which is put on exhibition at regular intervals to prevent the harmful effects of the heat, light and humidity.

The size of the map, prepared in portolan style by Piri Reis in 1513, is 87 by 63 centimeters. The drawings on the map were made with ink and watercolor on leather.

The map also shows the western coasts of Europe and Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, and parts of Central and South America.

In a written statement made by the Directorate of National Palaces regarding the story of the discovery of the map, it is stated that the map was found in 1924 when Topkapı Palace was being converted into a museum.

The “Piri Reis” world map was revealed during these works with the efforts of the museum director Halil Eldem. Professor Gustav A. Deismann, who made the catalog of the Non-Islamic Works Library in the Topkapı Palace Library in 1929, realized the importance of the map and asked Professor Paul Kahle, who was in Istanbul at that time, to examine the map with a special permission. With the common view of the two professors, it became clear that the map belonged to Piri Reis, it said in the statement.

Kahle was the person who published Piri Reis’s book “Kitab-ı Bahriyye” in German. Therefore, he was aware of the existence of the map and knew that the work of Piri Reis is of great importance in the history of cartography. In 1931, Kahle’s publications announced to the world that the Piri Reis map had been found and that it was in Topkapı Palace.

The Piri Reis map has a sensitive structure that is affected by the negative conditions of the exhibition environment such as the heat, light and humidity. The fact that the map was drawn on parchment, that it is a unique work, and the 508 years that have passed, have a great impact on this sensitivity. Therefore, the display period of the map is limited with the decision of the National Palaces Science Board. The possibility of the map’s participation in overseas exhibitions is also evaluated by taking into account the same sensitivities, it added.