Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574

Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574 – Müller & Schindler – Several Owners

Cologne (Germany) — 1574

A final look at the cities of Europe made just before the destruction of the Thirty Years’ War: the 1574 edition of Braun and Hogenberg’s famous collection of cityscapes from around the world

  1. Georg Braun (1541–1622) enlisted the help of Frans Hogenberg (1535–90) for this ambitious project

  2. The colored engravings are as artfully designed as they are accurate in their representation of each city

  3. They not only depict buildings but are full of details concerning the citizens’ dress and everyday lives

Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574

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Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574

The Civitates Orbis Terrarum is famous for the hundreds of gorgeous cityscapes from around the world contained in its six volumes, which are particularly precious because they present the medieval cities of Europe before the destruction of the Thirty Years’ War. Cologne theologian, geographer, and printer Georg Braun and Flemish engraver Frans Hogenberg collaborated in creating the ambitious project, which has only gained popularity over the centuries.
The masterfully designed and charmingly colored engravings not only depict buildings and their surrounding landscapes, but coats of arms, genre scenes from the everyday life of farmers and fishermen, local customs and costumes, boats, wagons, and more. Instructive and amusing texts written by Braun accompany the images and describe each town’s geographical location, historical development, and economic conditions. It was designed as a way of introducing the world to educated humanists. The volume printed in 1574 is presented here.

Civitates Orbis Terrarum – 1574

This collection of cityscapes across the entire world including Europe, Asian, Africa, and even the New World is considered to be the oldest work of its kind. This enormous six-volume work, also known under the title (in German) Beschreibung und Contrafactur der vornembster Stät der Welt, was edited and created over a period of nearly fifty years between 1572 and 1618. It not only stimulates the mind, but also offers the eye endless enjoyment through the lovely design and artist shaping of the maps. The edition from 1574 contains 139 colored cityscapes that include Siena, Venice, Lyon (labelled Lugdunum), Liège (labelled Leodium), Mexico City, and Cusco, Peru.
The masterful etchings resembling standalone panel paintings were artfully colored along with the staffage and genre scenes that accompany them. The historical importance of this work is also crucial because it provides a systematic mapping of the structures of many medieval cities that were, shortly after the publication of this book, destroyed or severely damaged during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) and subsequently renovated in the Baroque style.

A Team Effort

The theologian, canon, and dean from Cologne, Georg Braun (1541–1622) undertook only a few journeys himself as the author and publisher of the Civitatis Orbis Terrarum. Instead, he was able to obtain many examples through his numerous contacts, which could then be executed by the copperplate engraver and etcher Franz Hogenberg (1535–1590). Frans created the plates for vols. I–IV while his son Abraham and Simon van den Neuwel were responsible for vols. V and VI. Each of these city views are complete with descriptions of the geography, history, and economy of each of the respective locations, which were authored by Braun. Furthermore, there is information concerning local coats of arms as well as elevation markers.

Slices of Life

The cityscapes also contain small genre scenes showing the lives of the inhabitants of these cities engaged in the activities of their daily lives, which gives the reader information about what each local population generally did for a living. Farmers work the fields outside the city and fishermen angle in the rivers that they are situated on. Other details include carriages, ships, and contemporary folk costumes, which enliven the exquisite pictures and convey a realistic impression of everyday life at the end of the Middle Ages**. The modern beholder thus receives an inside look into local customs and learns contemporary fashions.


Alternative Titles
Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg: Beschreibung und Contrafactur der Vornembster Stät der Welt 1574-1618
Beschreibung und Contrafactur der vornembster Stät der Welt
Size / Format
1 volume - ca. 270 pages / 41.0 × 28.0 cm
139 colored city views
City views and maps
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574 – Müller & Schindler – Several Owners
Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2015
Limited Edition: Not limited
Detail Picture

Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574


Located on top of a great hill in Tuscany, Siena was one of the most important cities in medieval Europe and a major center of banking until it was surpassed by its rival Florence during the 13th and 14th centuries. The unexpected upside of this is that its medieval center with many towers (like nearby San Gimignano) remained relatively unchanged during the early modern period. Although most of the towers are gone today, the city as it is depicted here remains recognizable to modern travelers who have visited the city with its magnificent cathedral and the famous Piazza del Campo.

Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574 – Müller & Schindler – Several Owners
Single Page

Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574


La Serenissima, the “most serene” city of Venice, is presented in an oblique bird’s-eye view from the south in this beautiful and detailed cityscape, in which St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile can be identified without using the extensive legend in the lower corners. The Venetian Lagoon is filled with ships sailing between the 118 islands that comprise the unique and beautiful metropolis on water.

The Doge of Venice’s procession is depicted at the bottom of the page, the inscription of which reveals that he rarely leaves his palace, but when he does it with a magnificent entourage of councilors, clerics, envoys, trumpeters, and the bearers of arms, flags, and various other insignia. Following two men carrying a throne chair and a cushion, the Doge walks under a golden umbrella.

Civitates Orbis Terrarum - 1574 – Müller & Schindler – Several Owners
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beschreibung und Contrafactur der Vornehmbster Stät der Welt - 1574

Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2015

Publisher: Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2015
Limited Edition: Not limited
Binding: Brown leather with rich gold decoration
Commentary: 1 volume by Max Schefold
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
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