Exhibition reveals beauty in art of cartography

There is more to maps than meets the eye, and this was especially true back in Renaissance times, way before cartography was technically perfected. As is proved by the impressive exhibition dedicated to Crete and organized by the Cartography Archives at the National Bank Cultural Foundation, the maps of that period are a very complex subject. The «Candia – Creta – Crete, Space and Time, 16th to 18th Century» exhibition, which opened recently, is the third to be organized by the archives. There is so much information to be discovered in the first printed efforts to map the island of Crete – valuable historical information, as well as illustrations of battles, monuments and more – that one acquires an entirely new perspective on mapping. It may seem unfair, in a way, that such an important effort is lost in the ocean of events taking place daily in the capital. But Eynard Hall, where the National Bank Cultural Foundation is housed, has yet to be acknowledged as a highly active cultural institution by Athenians. Tracing Crete’s history When the rebirth of cartography kicked off in the 15th century, Crete was under Venetian rule. Through seven sections, arranged according to theme, the exhibition traces the island’s history through cartographic depictions, up until the time of the Ottoman invasion. Apart from works belonging to the National Bank Cultural Foundation, the exhibition further features items on loan from the Cretan History Museum, Iraklio’s Vikelaia Municipal Library, the Greek Parliament and the private collection of Theodoris and Vassilis Masselos. It will run to November 20 and will then travel to the Cretan History Museum in Iraklio. The «Cartography Archives of the Land of Greece,» a donation by Victor and Niove Melas, found permanent housing at Eynard Hall in January 2003, where there is a permanent exhibition hall. The rare collection includes about 200 printed maps dating from the early 16th century to the 18th century, old atlases and geography manuals as well as a copy of Rigas Feraios’s Charter, which is actually on display at the current exhibition. The donation is completed by books and studies, while the Cultural Foundation itself takes care to enrich the archives with new purchases. As Victor Melas recently announced, the next exhibition by the Cartography Archives will focus on the Peloponnese. Eynard Hall, National Bank Cultural Foundation, 20 Aghiou Constantinou & Menandrou, tel 210.522.3101/323.4267.

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