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COOTWIJCK, Johannes van. Itinerarium Hierosolymitanum et Syriacum …, Antwerp, Ηieronymus Verdussen, 1619.

Johannes van Cootwijck or Johannes Cotovicus (?-1628) from Flanders qualified as Doctor of Law at the University of Utrecht. In April 1598 he departed from Venice for his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After sailing across the Adriatic Sea and through the Eastern Mediterranean, with Crete and Cyprus as ports of call, he arrived in Palestine. On his return trip he visited Syria, staying in Aleppo for three months, and finally reached Venice in May 1599.

His chronicle, which continues the tradition of similar sixteenth-century works, was published in Latin ten years later, but did not meet with success. It was merely republished, also in Dutch, the following year. In addition to Cootwijck's travel experiences in the places he visited, the five chapters of this work contain a dense amount of historical information drawn from Greek and Latin sources (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Homer, Horace, Pliny, Polybius, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Strabo) as well as contemporary authors. The text is illustrated with views and maps, on-page bibliographical references, inscriptions and passages from the Bible. Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulchre, Bethlehem and the other sacred places are described in detail and accompanied by very interesting ground plans.

An educated and observant author, Cootwijck gives us an extensive description of the coast opposite Corfu (regarding the population and its occupations), the first reference to the Maniots to be found in a travel chronicle, and he also mentions the galleries of ancient Gortyn. Especially important is his account of Cyprus, as he visited the island thirty years after it was conquered by the Ottomans (1571). Cootwijck discusses at length its agricultural production, particularly carob beans (known as the island's black gold), gives a wonderful description of the saltpans of Larnaca and depicts in a very lively manner daily life in Nicosia and the culture of the island’s inhabitants in general.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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