Cities of the World

In the year 1572 two Cologne-based entrepreneurs, the cleric Georg Braun and the engraver Franz Hogenberg, published the first volume of a collection of town plans, entitled Civitates Orbis Terrarum, or Cities of the World. It was conceived as a companion volume to the first modern atlas, edited by Abraham Ortelius, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570). In a golden age of mapmaking, when new lands were discovered and explored, developments in cartography and printing technology led to the publication of maps and books which, to this day, have not been surpassed in their sheer magnificence.

Over the next 45 years, the Civitates grew to six volumes, containing 546 maps, prospects and bird’s eye views of the most important cities of the known world, including London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Madrid, Cologne, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Brussels, Amsterdam, Prague, Moscow, Cairo, Constantinople, and even Cuzco and Mexico City in the newly-discovered Americas. The books were available in hand-coloured editions, and some examples even featured sumptuous embellishments using gold leaf.

Included are two iconic prospects of Luxembourg City, which were published respectively in 1581 and 1598. They are among the earliest surviving visual records of the town, allowing us to gain valuable historical information.

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