In 1792, an anonymous correspondent to the London Gentleman’s Magazine, one of the greatest 18th-century periodicals, commented:
“When Books of Travels fall in my way, as sometimes they do, I peruse them with great avidity. One misfortune is that often they come unattended by a map, which I regard as a very essential deficiency, because, though a reader may have a good general notion of geography, yet, it is impossible his knowledge should extend to the interior places, which the traveller has visited and describes. Thus Mons. Dellon's 'Account of the Isle of Sicily', gave me not half the pleasure it would have done, had it been accompanied by a map; and the same may be said of Sig. Marisi's 'Description of the Isle of Cyprus 1791'. So, Mr. Urban, I do not esteem any volume of travels into the interior of a country to be a complete and satisfactory performance, without it being illustrated by a particular chart, expressing the itinerant's route...”
Sylvia Ioannou’s original instinct as a collector was to gather books relating to her homeland, her particular fascination being historical travel accounts of Cyprus. Many of the authors that visited the Island made their own map, although sadly not the eminent Signor Marisi referred to above. Fortunately, publishers of more general travel accounts frequently inserted maps of Cyprus in order to illustrate their texts.
This website presents some of the great maps made by travellers and/or visitors to Cyprus; notably, Alexander Drummond’s map published in 1754, as well as that of an anonymous French traveller from the 1770s, who modelled his manuscript route map on Drummond's map. While many of these maps are landmarks in the cartography and history of the Island, it soon became apparent to Sylvia that other landmarks in our historical knowledge of Cyprus - frequently a bulwark, or a battlefield, between the Christian West and the Islamic East - are to be found in maps not issued in travel books.
It was thus decided that the collection should also include separately-published “news-maps”, echoing the long route from the hard-fought Turkish invasion and conquest of Cyprus in 1570-1571, up to the transfer of the Island from Turkey to Britain in 1878. The collection was gradually further enriched, and now covers a vast range of cartographic material on, or relating to, Cyprus, from Bartolomeo dalli Sonetti's 1485 Isolario, to the first fully modern map of Cyprus, which resulted from Kitchener's survey of the Island and was published in 1885.