Terrestrial Eden, from the Hereford MappaMundi

Terrestrial Eden

During the Dark Ages many believed that paradise, called Eden in the Bible, was an actual place on Earth. Many maps tried to fix the location of it in the very east of the world. The Earthly paradise was believed to be very high also; it was not reached by Noah's Flood, and nearly touched the moon. 

In the late 1490's, Christopher Columbus felt that he had discovered the terrestrial paradise. After his travels, he began to believe that the world was pear-shaped, with the terrestrial paradise as the highest point. As evidence, he cited the belief that ships rise toward the sky as they sail west from the Azores, and that they enjoy milder weather, and that there was greater compass deviation. In speaking about his discovery of the Land of Gracia (Venezuela), Columbus believed that he had found "another world" and because of its size, location and large rivers, he felt that it was the Earthly Paradise.

The 6th-century sea voyaging monk, Brendan the Navigator, also sought this Terrestrial Paradise. He called it the Land of Promise or the Land Promised to the Saints and it existed on the far western side of the Atlantic. In the story of his travels, he finds this Promised Land but the natives tell him he is not allowed to stay.