First Map of Florida?

This map was published in 1511, two years before Juan Ponce de León explored Florida’s coast. Contemporary researchers believe that only roughly 20 copies of the map exist today.

Touchton Map Library, Tampa Bay History Center

Peter Martyr published this groundbreaking map in his book Opera: Legatio Babylonica Occeani Decas. The publication was greeted by a none-too-happy King Ferdinand II, ruler of Spanish Iberia. Ferdinand, protective of his kingdom’s exploration efforts in the Americas, recalled the publication and ordered the page with the map removed. Martyr’s map shows that Europeans were exploring the Florida coast roughly a century before John Smith landed at Jamestown and the Pilgrims established a colony near Plymouth Rock.

Three Fast Florida Facts

  1. Juan Ponce de León has long been credited as the first Spanish explorer to travel to Florida, but it is likely other Spaniards traveled to the peninsula before he did in 1513.
  2. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the Spanish founder of St. Augustine, married Doña Antonia, a member of the Calusa empire’s ruling family, after being pressured by the Calusa chief the Spaniards called Carlos.
  3. Spanish imperial architects worked to establish a series of settlements along the Florida coast in the late 1500s, but by 1600 only St. Augustine remained.