Civitates Orbis Terrarum

R/22248-250 + ER/4684-86 - Archivo Histórico Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)

Alternate Titles:

Städteansichten von Braun und Hogenberg, Contrafactur der Vornebster Stät

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Alternate Titles

Städteansichten von Braun und Hogenberg
Contrafactur der Vornebster Stät

Extent / Format

6 volumes - 1,300 pages / 36.0 x 25.0 cm

Artist / School

Georg Braun
Franz Hogenberg


600 city views (double pages)

Short description

The Civitates Orbis Terrarum or the “Cityscapes of Frans Hohenberg” were produced between 1572 and 1617. The theologian Georg Braun functioned as the publisher of the printed graphic work. The codex contains 600 realistic and gorgeous cityscapes. The richly detailed colored pictures were groundbreaking for the geography of the outgoing Middle Ages and still astound their beholder today.

Facsimile editions available


Civitates Orbis Terrarum

In the year 1570, the Dutchman Abraham Ortelius published a famous world atlas by the name of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. It was the first work of its kind and created a sensation worldwide. The magnificent atlas so fascinated the copperplate engraver Frans Hogenberg that he decided to expand the Dutch work through distinct, fantastical cityscapes. The so-called Civitates Orbis Terrarum is a collection of 600 colored copperplate engravings, which show the most well-known and important cities of the medieval world. It is one of the most beloved works of German Baroque not only because of its geographic correctness, but also thanks to its enchanting pictures.

A Scientific Feat

The publication of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum encompasses over 600 realistic cityscapes and city maps with an overall scope of ca. 1,600 pages. It was published in six volumes between 1572 and 1618 and shows all the great cities of Europe, Africa, Asia, and even America. Georg Braun, a theologian who lived from 1541 to 1622, acted as publisher. Frans Hogenberg was the engraver for the first 4 volumes. He had already made various maps for Abraham Ortelius. The 5th and 6th bands were fleshed out by Simon van den Neuwel. The greatest thinkers of that time worked perfectly together here and created a academically and artistically valuable masterpiece.

Breathtaking Décor

The artistically designed engravings by Hohenberg are unique among medieval cityscapes. Jerusalem, Rome, Istanbul, Moscow, London, Paris, Mexico, Bilbao, Barcelona, Burgos, and Seville are only a few of the world cities reproduced in the work. The realistic, colored depictions of cities and landscapes are characterized by an unbelievable wealth of details. Alongside the faithful depictions of cities, the pictures amaze through richly endowed decoration. Carriages, ships, contemporary folk costumes, as well as numerous genre scenes enliven the exquisite pictures and convey a realistic impression of everyday life towards the end of the Middle Ages. The depictions make the whole world of the 16th and 17th centuries, of the **“Golden Age”, come alive.

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