How Leonardo da Vinci made a "satellite" map in 1502

It was a feat of technological and symbolic imagination. And it was pretty accurate, too.
Join the Video Lab to see Phil's Q&A!
Leonardo da Vinci’s known for his art and inventions - but also his groundbreaking maps, like this one of Imola, Italy. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox’s Phil Edwards explores how it was made.
Further reading:
1) John Pinto’s History of the Ichnographic City Plan is useful to understand the history of these maps.
2) Check out Portraying the City in Early Modern Europe: Measurement, Representation, and Planning by Hilary Ballon and David Friedman for more info.
3) If you want to dig deeper into early maps, Jessica Maier’s Mapping Past and Present: Leonardo Bufalini’s Plan of Rome is fascinating.
Please email Phil if you have trouble finding any of these papers.
Drafting 1502’s equivalent to a “satellite” map was a massive undertaking, and Leonardo managed to pull it off. His early map helped Italian politcian Cesare Borgia construct an idea of the town of Imola that was far more accurate than most contemporary maps. Through the use of careful measurements of angles and pacing out distances using a primitive odometer, Leonardo managed to create a map that was very close to accurate.
This map - an “ichnographic” map - was a step forward in portraying how maps could work to represent geography. Though it’s marked with some inaccuracies, it’s stunningly precise for the time and pushed forward the art of mapmaking. Leonardo’s Imola remains, even today, a remarkably useful guide to the city.
In Vox Almanac, Senior Producer Phil Edwards explains the world through history's footnotes.
Watch all of Vox Almanac here: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out
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  • 1000 videos no subs.

    1000 videos no subs.

    Il y a 8 heures

    When you make a character and you spend all your points on intellect.

  • goalee 2908

    goalee 2908

    Il y a 9 heures

    Just saw the Ancient Aliens episode of Leonardo Da Vinci this evening on TV and thus pops up on my FRdownload feed. Are they collecting TV cache too now? It's not even a smart tv 🙄

  • Eric x

    Eric x

    Il y a 10 heures

    Dude probably made a time machine and is waiting for my not born yet relatives a hundred years from now.

  • Dev


    Il y a 18 heures

    If you want to call a person super genius + path breaker + inventor + artist - just call that person 'Da Vinci'. If he were to be in this age, we would possibly be doing interstellar travel and Mars would have been a habitable planet as well.

  • Ayban Atienza

    Ayban Atienza

    Il y a 23 heures

    He had a time machine

  • Jin Alawi

    Jin Alawi

    Il y a jour

    Possibly air baloon

  • Miguel Silva

    Miguel Silva

    Il y a jour

    What if ..... we copied his sketches hmmm

  • Dean Gavrilovic

    Dean Gavrilovic

    Il y a jour

    Geodesy people , just geodesy

  • Gry Phyn

    Gry Phyn

    Il y a jour

    Dumbest video ever from Vox. People have made maps for centuries upon centuries.

  • wolverineiscool


    Il y a jour

    let me save you some time, he used eagle vision

  • wolverineiscool


    Il y a jour

    Hot Air Balloon!

  • ewsswree


    Il y a jour


  • Sam Chavan

    Sam Chavan

    Il y a jour

    That guy must've had such paitence man!!....

  • Froggo


    Il y a 2 jours

    leo is truly a legend. i love him in the titanic

  • Sourab Baman

    Sourab Baman

    Il y a 12 heures

    Froggo i got u , what u did there😂

  • ezio auditore

    ezio auditore

    Il y a 2 jours

    Still looking for an assassins creed fan comment

  • pofpof pufpuf

    pofpof pufpuf

    Il y a 2 jours

    Da vinci was a man who lived hundred years front of his time also I know one more person who draw world map, his name is captain piri reis, he was very talented and smart geographer and his world map is breathtaking, specially accurate and design of map is amazing.

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    most of piris map was him just reusing other peoples maps just like how most world map makers did it

  • SARA 99

    SARA 99

    Il y a 2 jours

    I'm proud to be italian❤ Leonardo è stato uno dei più grandi geni di sempre



    Il y a 2 jours

    He 'probably' used a disk 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Michael Willhoit

    Michael Willhoit

    Il y a 3 jours

    Or maybe an air baloon

  • Ava8i Newman

    Ava8i Newman

    Il y a 3 jours

    He had to be smokin somethin🎄🎃

  • Dipak Gore

    Dipak Gore

    Il y a 3 jours

    Why don't u visit india... Check kankaleshwar temple in beed district of Maharashtra...U will be stunned after looking it's satellite images ... It is 2000 years old

  • Ancel Rick

    Ancel Rick

    Il y a 3 jours

    I found a satellite map of my house, it even shows all the rooms as if the roof was missing. it was built in 1943 , weird.

  • Ming


    Il y a 4 jours

    Top 10 most broken anime character 1) *Leonardo*

  • Sal Newton

    Sal Newton

    Il y a 5 jours

    What if he used an air balloon, so he could see from above.

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    because he didnt have one

  • jakarta gamer

    jakarta gamer

    Il y a 5 jours

    let's just all agree that Leonardo Da Vinci is the world's smartest person with the iq up to 300 or maybe more

  • Iqbal Mutaqin

    Iqbal Mutaqin

    Il y a 6 jours

    How Muhammad the prophet of god knows the process of human creation in 600' ?

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    everyone with a child knows the process of human creation

  • Jericho Noya

    Jericho Noya

    Il y a 4 jours




    Il y a 6 jours

    this man is the only prophet

  • Ari Lord

    Ari Lord

    Il y a 7 jours

    Without any doubt, He was the smartest person who has ever lived in a whole history of mankind... Pure Respect !

  • No U

    No U

    Il y a 8 jours

    It's not that hard for small city.

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    then why didnt people before him do it?

  • Jaithra Perera

    Jaithra Perera

    Il y a 9 jours

    Da Vinci was taken up there to sketch the map, by an hovering extraterrestrial craft. *AnCiEnT aStROnAut TheORIstS SAY yEs !!!!!!!!*

  • David Nolan

    David Nolan

    Il y a 10 jours

    he was an alien, and so does Tesla

  • justforfun919


    Il y a 16 jours

    maybe he built a tower and climbed up , finished drawing the map. or perhaps a series of towers

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    but then he would still be guessing distances and angles by hand and it wouldnt be as accurate as this map is

  • j k

    j k

    Il y a 16 jours

    He was an alien trapped in human form and was unaware of it all

  • beirut909


    Il y a 17 jours

    Vox: "They lacked proper shape and scale" Perspective: "Am I nothing to you?"

  • Josh S-TV

    Josh S-TV

    Il y a 18 jours

    God helped him draw it

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    god also helps serial killers

  • Thinh Huu

    Thinh Huu

    Il y a 28 jours

    so amazing :D

  • Shmon


    Il y a mois

    Maybe you should have discussed the method of triangulation as well? The Egyptians and Chinese were making quite accurate maps already, centuries before da Vinci. Try to decentralize our eurocentric (or western), image. Would be enlightening!

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    can you show us some of these "satellite" maps from china?

  • Rhyannon Ashford

    Rhyannon Ashford

    Il y a mois


  • loverlei79


    Il y a mois

    Because he could count? It's not hard to do such a limited map... Leo has brains and eyeballs.

  • OneSarcasticKid


    Il y a mois

    How tf is it even humanly possible for a human to be so talented in different fields..

  • NAMiR


    Il y a mois

    0:47 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  • Error 404

    Error 404

    Il y a mois


  • NickMeckler


    Il y a mois

    He was bored

  • André Luiz Bósio

    André Luiz Bósio

    Il y a mois

    Assassin's Creed 2 memories.

  • Bi11y


    Il y a mois

    Leonardo Da Vinci is too OP in Civilization.

  • GMT plus 5:30

    GMT plus 5:30

    Il y a mois

    What if the burgelia had ruled the world

  • Asahel


    Il y a mois

    its called measurements and a bit common sense

  • KendrixTermina


    Il y a mois

    so cool

  • Trachenko Sergiy

    Trachenko Sergiy

    Il y a mois

    not informative. I would expect more information about approaches and concrete techniques that were used. How he measured a radius of a wall curves, how he chose a scale. This is too abstract.

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    youre too attached to the tittle of the video, thats not really what its about

  • K H

    K H

    Il y a mois

    YEAH let's get real passionate with our content demands

  • Julian Sloman

    Julian Sloman

    Il y a mois

    More impressed how little it changed.

  • old lady

    old lady

    Il y a mois

    It looks like a cross section of a head. Why would he take artistic licence?

  • Athanatoi


    Il y a mois

    Leonardo invented flying machine right? So perhaps he just used it. After he asked one of his friend Ezio Auditore the master assassin to test it of course

  • William Small

    William Small

    Il y a mois

    Maybe he was just really good and had a good grasp of trigonometry and geometry.

  • Kurt Cobain

    Kurt Cobain

    Il y a mois

    He was a genius...

  • MrFausten


    Il y a mois

    It´s simple, Leonardo created a time machine, went to the future, copied a satellite map, and returned to 1502.

  • Veronica Logotheti

    Veronica Logotheti

    Il y a mois

    Very good thanks

  • MR Vlad

    MR Vlad

    Il y a mois

    *If you can read this , the FRdownload algorithm worked*

  • Daniele Dall'Olio

    Daniele Dall'Olio

    Il y a mois

    I live in imola and what the video say is true,the original map is the royal gallery in windsor

  • moumous


    Il y a mois

    Oh God, what a stupid video!!! People could draw maps in ancient history, not just Leonardo da Vinci... He was incredibly precise, sure. But that's called a map... no need to put the word "satellite" in it. Ancient Greeks even calculated the circumference of earth with an astonishing degree of precision, given the tools they had in those times... oh yeah, they had no satellites either. I really like Vox, but sometimes they put up really dumb stupid videos.

  • Magnús Örn

    Magnús Örn

    Il y a jour

    okay, show us other maps of cities before then that are from a birds eye view you really dont get the video, its not about how he did it, its about the change from a mythological mindset to a more factual and scientific one other maps before were not accurate and from odd angles as stated in the video

  • Mr. Beard

    Mr. Beard

    Il y a mois

    Probably out of body projection of himself gave him the views necessary.

  • Manoel Andreis Fernandes

    Manoel Andreis Fernandes

    Il y a mois

    If you watch Futurama on “Duh Vinci Code” you will see he was the dumbest in his planet, that’s why he was the smartest on Earth.

  • Caligula


    Il y a mois

    Ok. There. I watched it.

  • Arthur Ying Gaudefroy

    Arthur Ying Gaudefroy

    Il y a mois

    Was that video voiced by an AI?

  • Marco Pederzoli

    Marco Pederzoli

    Il y a mois

    I live 15km from Imola and the Rocca is still there, identical

  • Oranges and Salt

    Oranges and Salt

    Il y a mois

    Nah, it was astral projection

  • T O

    T O

    Il y a mois

    Anyone else hear the sample of Kodak Blacks "Lockjaw" at 2:40 ?

  • nasis18


    Il y a mois

    What an amazing guy.

  • swampy


    Il y a mois

    at this point, i think Da Vinci isn't a real person but a group/cult

  • Tom Fu

    Tom Fu

    Il y a mois

    Trigonometry and level section is not Da Vinci's invention. How do you think building sites were measured or see navigation done?

  • Michael Sebourn

    Michael Sebourn

    Il y a 2 mois

    he stole a grey aliens scrap book



    Il y a 2 mois

    Because he understood the earth was flat just like the rest of the world did.