Illustrated Maps in History – Constantinople

In 1572, a group of cartographers unveiled the first volume in their collection of settlement plans. The cartographers; Georg Braun, Franz Hogenberg and Joris Hoefnagel put together six atlas volumes over the course of 46 years. These illustrated maps changed the way that we viewed the world.
In the volume called “Cities of The World” was a map of Constantinople. This illustrated map melds together geography and illustrations so that a casual viewer can more clearly understand what they are looking at.
Constantinople, as it is shown in this map, is a city that has just been reinvented by the Ottoman Empire. The evolution is clear in the picture, which shows the city and immediate surrounding area in its full glory.
The map features precise, clean lines, which were made possible by the copperplate printing process which had just recently become available. Colours were applied to the map after the printing process was done. This meant that cartography was still a labour intensive process, but it was quicker and easier than it had been in previous decades, and as such maps were far more affordable and were accessible to a much wider range of people.
This map, and the others in the “Cities of The World” volume took three people to produce – a cartographer, an artist, and an engraver. As far as historians are aware, none of those people actually been to Constantinople. All of the details in this particular illustration can be found in older maps, or old written accounts of visits to the city.
The idea of cartographers basing their maps on hearsay and old illustrations might seem alien to people today, but in the 16th century only a select few got to actually travel the world, so careful and meticulous research was the only option that most cartographers had.

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