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Regine Gerhardt:

Three times Hamburg – the intellectual program of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum

Cartographica Helvetica 38 (2008) 3–12


Volume I of a collection of town views called Civitates Orbis Terrarum was first published in 1572 in Cologne. Until 1617 another five volumes followed, all published in Latin, German and French editions. Clergyman Georg Braun from Cologne was not only the primary publisher of Volumes I to V but also authored explanatory texts for the described towns as well as extensive preambles. These texts frame the images with humanistic explanations and, together with the images, form a well-ordered structure.

In his texts Braun emphasized the innovative potential of these town views and developed an intellectual program. It provides information about its functional and didactic aims, about the preferred manner of representing towns and the specific perception accompanying the visual images. The Hanseatic city of Hamburg was represented a total of three times in the Civitates: already in Volume I from 1572 with a view, and in Volume IV from 1588 with a rare bird's-eye-view map which was replaced by a new version already in 1590. The central theme of this contribution is not the development of town representations as such, but the visual images associated with the respective representations and the idealistic concepts they conveyed.

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