The crossing of the Alps (Paso de los Alpes)

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The crossing of the Alps (Paso de los Alpes)

The deed of Hannibal arriving in Italy with a numerous army including elephants is well known. The difficulty in transporting the pachyderms so far away from their habitat, and to make these animals from the plains overcome the natural barrier posed by the mountains, is a feat which has become a historical landmark as one of the most remarkable exploits of Antiquity. Despite its name, the tapestry represents the crossing of the Alps in the background. Mounted warriors descending the mountains can be seen on the left, and two elephants carrying a wooden tower with armed men can be seen in a closer view, making the military function of these animals apparent. The border is practically identical to that of the first tapestry, and the same marks appear on the selvage.

'If we win, all of this will be ours'

Although called ‘The crossing of the Alps’, this scene is only shown as secondary, sharing relevance even with the Carthaginian camp comprised of large tents. However, the main scene referred to in the inscription is beyond the vicissitudes entailed by the crossing of the mountains. Hannibal, standing on the foreground before three of his captains, points with his staff at the Italian plains, fertile and pleasant, which would be theirs after victory.


The banner placed on the top part describes the scene with the inscription: HANNIBAL EXCELSO ARMIGERIS DE VERTICE MONTIS / BLANDA LOCA ITALIE CONSPICIENDA DEDIT (Hannibal on the summit of a mountain shows his warriors the pleasant Italian countryside).

The taking of Saguntum

This tapestry is the second one of those preserved in Zamora, but not of the entire set. There would be at least one previous one, ‘The taking of Saguntum’, an episode which took place before arriving in Italy. A tapestry is preserved from a series other than Zamora’s in the castle of Chaumont (France).

Series The History of Hannibal

Second tapestry of those preserved

Models Anonymous master of the Netherlands

Manufacture Brussels’ workshops, c. 1570

Fabric Wool and silk, 6,5/7 warps per cm

Size 354 x 479 cm

Location Cathedral of Zamora

Origin In the cathedral since the 17th century

On display Cathedral Museum


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