Samourka collection of rare maps of the Aegean

The ancient Greek word used today (chartis) to signify «a depiction on paper, or other material, of a part or all of the surface of the land or sea» has been brought alive again in an exhibition of maps from the collection of Margarita Samourka, who began with maps of her birthplace, the island of Santorini. Her love for that island developed into an interest in the other Cyclades, the Ionian islands and the Mediterranean as a whole. The Portolan chart of the Aegean Archipelago depicted on the invitation also stands at the entrance to the exhibition, held by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage. Maps from the Samourka collection have been exhibited at the Stathatos Mansion, the Zappeion Hall, the Melina Mercouri Cultural Center, and at the Bellonio on Santorini. This time, the maps are on show in the ground-floor area of the Hellenic Society’s historic building on Tripodon Street in Plaka, where the building’s foundations have been incorporated into stone foundations of the ancient road of the same name that ran under the site of the current building, near the choregic monuments of the city of Athens. The display includes rare maps of the northern and southern Aegean, Samos, Halki, Nisyros, Tilos, Astypalaia, Kinero and Levintho, Tzia, Andros, Skyros, and Paros by Pierre Vander AA, 1729, according to the first page of the excellent catalog edited by L. Navari. Number 18 is the map of Crete by the Venetian Vincenzo Coronelli, the views of the forts of 1696, and number 16 is a map of Crete, Strasbourg, 1513 (Tabula Moderna), based on mathematical specifications of Ptolemy using latitude and longitude. At the opening, expert Giorgos Tolias spoke on the history of maps from the 15th century, and of the Samourka collection specifically, while the president of the board of the society, Costas Karras, referred to the importance of the exhibition. There was standing room only in the society’s hall, where the front seats were occupied by former Prime Minister Georgios Rallis and his wife Lena, Dimitris P. Marinopoulos and his wife Dolly, a member of Kathimerini’s board, Giorgos Constantinidis and his wife Eleni, Lena Triantafylli, Honorary Ambassador Achilleas Exarchos, Ambassador A. Filonos and his wife Eleni, Loula Kertsikoff and, of course, Lisa Evert and Nana Koutsoudaki, who curated the exhibition in its ancient setting. The crowds made their way around the exhibits before heading for the island-style buffet, to the accompaniment of guitar music and songs. «There is a ship, there is a way,» in the words of the Alexandrian poet, for those who love maps of Greece, until November 26 in Tripodon Street.