An unusual story – a sailor named Angelino Dulcert drew Skopje in the 14th century – writes the popular Macedonian portal Skopjeinfo! Who is the seaman and how did he manage to sail to Skopje? Along the Vardar River? Certainly not! How then? He drew Skopje and counted it among the Mediterranean cities, previously he mapped several places in the Mediterranean area, but also beyond.
The seaman’s name was Angelino Dulcert. Who was Angelino Dulcert? Besides being a seaman, he gradually gained the reputation of being one of the best cartographers of his time. He wrote the popular “Portolan”.
Some sources say he was a Catalan, but presumably the Catalans only hired him. He was of Italian descent from Genoa. The Spanish and Italians became the best manufacturers of the maps called Portolan. Angelino Dulcert once lived in Mallorca, where he became the founder of the famous Mallorca School of Cartography.
The created geographical map – Portolan and the drawing of Skopje were not a coincidence, but a result of the respective historical circumstances. Precisely these circumstances contributed Skopje to be included in the constellation of important cities. He drew the Portolan Dulcert in 1339 when his other important maps were being made. Today the portalan is kept in the National Library in Paris along with his other masterpieces.
In his work, Ducert presents the Skopje fortress, which at that time, together with the suburbs, was the central part of the city. In the foreground is one of the main gates, probably the south gate of the fortress, popularly called Kale in Macedonian. You can also spot a part of the interior of the fortress with round arches that could be part of the other gates of the city. Outside the fortress, the surrounding area is shown, especially the mountains marked by the name of Mons Epirus. The most important part are the numerous towers that rise above all parts of the fortress.
These towers are described even more specifically in another historical document, the Milutin Charter of 1300. Both the Portolan and the charter as rare documents, visually and textually, report the same impressions of the fortress in Skopje – the impressive and massive towers. Some of these towers of the fortress are even preserved to this day. We are talking, for example, of the Obla Pirga (round tower), the Hrpata Pirga, etc.
On one of the towers in the drawing, you can spot a flag with a red double-headed eagle on yellow background as a heraldic symbol that was mainly used by Orthodox Christians in the Middle Ages. It was adopted from the east and then used in the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire), but also in countries that did not come under their rule.
Image: Angelino Dulcert’s portolan card from 1339 (the colored original map on top of the article is the same). The dimensions of the original map, which is in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, are approx. 75 cm x 105 cm. In contrast to most Portolan cards, this card consists of two sheets of parchment glued together. The dashed coastlines indicate the area outside the exact core area of the map. The two compass roses are shown in gray so as not to obscure the coastal details.
Profile of Angelino Dulcert:
Angelino Dulcert (fl. 1339), probably the same person known as Angelino de Dalorto (fl. 1320s), and whose real name was probably Angelino de Dulceto or Dulceti or possibly Angelí Dolcet, was an Italian-Majorcan cartographer.
He is responsible for two notable 14th-century portolan charts, the “Dalorto” chart of 1325 and the “Dulcert” chart of 1339. The latter is the first portolan known to have been produced in Palma, and considered the founding piece of the Majorcan cartographic school. He is also believed to be the author of a third undated and unsigned chart held in London.
Virtually nothing is known of Angelino Dulceti/Dolcet/Dalorto/Dulcert. A common assumption is that he was an Italian of Liguria, who trained in Genoa and subsequently emigrated to Majorca some time in the 1320s or 1330s.