Plans of Cologne and Palmanova, Civitates Orbis Terrarum


The Civitates Orbis Terrarum was created by George Braun and Frans Hogenberg in the late-16th and early-17th centuries, and featured here are the plans of both Cologne and Palmanova. 

Cologne was the home town of Braun and Hogenberg and the birthplace of the Civitates. Essentially a ground plan, the engraving also shows oblique elevations of the buildings. These are taken, not from a single viewpoint that would have over-emphasised the foreground, but from a fictitious moving vantage-point that leaves each building true to scale. If the ordinary dwellings are stylised, the city’s monuments are portrayed from the life. The cathedral, destined to remain unfinished for a further three centuries, and the city walls, since demolished to make way for the Ringstrasse, are clearly visible.

Occasionally a town may spring into being fully formed, the embodiment of a single design. Palmanova is one of the purest examples of a planned Renaissance town. Founded in 1593 on the renewal of hostilities between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Ottoman Sultan, the town was positioned on Italy’s north-east frontier as a fortified outpost to protect Venice.

The primary purpose of the radial-concentric design emphasised by the plan-view published in the Civitates was a military one. The use of artillery in siege warfare had rendered thick perimeter walls obsolete, and the defences of Palmanova depended instead on a series of bastions backed up by clear lines of covering fire from a central point. Aesthetics were also dear to the Renaissance mind, though, and Scamozzi’s arrangement of nine bastions (instead of eight) softens the rigid symmetry of earlier models.

Full title:
Civitates orbis terrarum.
1572-1623, Antwerp, Cologne
Map / Engraving / Hand colouring
Georg Braun, Frans Hogenberg
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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