Atlas of Urban Geography from the 16th Century Reissued

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Being a cartographer by profession, the beautiful maps in this reissued book caught my eye.  More than that, however, was the innovation displayed in the artistic cartography from more than 500 years.   Despite being more than 300 years away from any form of technology that allowed a true aerial view of a landscape, the cartographers in this atlas from 1572 displayed a forward thinking centuries ahead of their times.  Capturing a time of incredible urban development and innovation, Civitates Orbis Terrarium (or Cities of the World) was first published in 1572.  Edited by Georg Braun, the 16th century atlas offered 546 prospects, bird’s-eye views and maps of cities from around the world and was the earliest atlas of urban geography.

Over a hundred of different artists and cartographers were involved in engraving maps based on collected city plans and views covering all major cities in Europe as well as major urban centers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.  The most notable of which was Georg (Joris) Hoefnagel (1542-1600), an artist from Antwerp who was one of the last manuscript illuminators and a significant contributor to the development of topographical drawing.

View of Seville (Latin: Hepalis) from 'Civitates Orbis Terrarum' by Joris Hoefnagel.
View of Seville (Latin: Hepalis) from ‘Civitates Orbis Terrarum’ by Joris Hoefnagel. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Six volumes of the atlas were published between 1572 and 1617.  Taschen has reissued several reprints of the atlas covering 363 color plates along with commentary providing cartographical and cultural context for each city map.  The latest reprint was just issued in November of 2015.

The book (Amazon): Braun/Hogenberg: Cities of the World

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.