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Old Maps of World Heritage Towns and Cities

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 7 Jun 2014 08:41 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have just become the "proud owner" of a copy of "Civitates Orbis Terrarum" ("Cities of the World") - the 2008 "version" by Taschen, I might add, and not an original!!

This "Atlas" was compiled/published in 7 volumes between 1572 and 1617 by Georg Braun of Cologne. His project was to collect together maps of over 300 cities from around the World. The majority were European but others from Africa, Asia and America (such as Mexico, Cuzco, Goa, Algiers, Mombasa and Jerusalem) were also represented.

A number of Cartographers were involved - particularly Ortelius from Antwerp. Braun's role was as editor and credit is also always given to the engraver Hoefnagel (Also from Antwerp)

The reason I have raised this thread is because many of the maps are of places which have since become WHS. The maps show the layout of these towns and cities in the late 16th Century and, whilst they may be of particular interest to a map lover such as myself, are likely also I believe to be of interest to anyone interested in the "Historic Heart" of these towns. This may be to track the elements for which they were inscribed and/or to identify the changes which have taken place.

For those who do not want to purchase either an original (200000 and up for partial versions!!) or the Taschen version (c32), the majority of the set is available in a pretty good reproduction on the Web thanks to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The easiest way to access the individual maps is via the page whose link I provide below
a. Navigate to the list of towns/cities at the bottom of the page and choose one
b. On reaching the page for the selected town choose the "High Resolution" option
c. Once on the map use "+" to zoom in further
Unfortunately, unless you get the Taschen version, you won't always have access to the keys which identify particular buildings and features and you will have to read the Latin descriptions in the original!!

The maps vary in accuracy and detail - some are rather formulaic, utilising "standard" symbols for churches, walls etc. Some are primarily "views" of a city (E.g Buda) whilst others are genuine "plans" in which the street patterns and buildings can be directly related to those on the ground today (E.g London).

General discussions about WHS Forum / General discussions about WHS /
 Old Maps of World Heritage Towns and Cities

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