This well-known view of Antwerp is a monumental hand-coloured woodcut that is no less than 120 cm high and 265 cm wide. It was printed on 20 sheets of handmade paper. This is the only known surviving copy.
Map of Antwerp (1565) by Virgilius Bononiensis and Gillis Coppens van DiestOriginal Source: Museum Plantin-Moretus
This city plan by Virgilius Bononiensis shows the development of Antwerp at its peak. It is the largest and most detailed Antwerp map from the sixteenth century.
The whole is actually a collage of twenty colored woodcuts.
The design is by Virgilius Bononiensis or Boloniensis, an Antwerp citizen with presumably Italian roots. He may have been an Italian from Bologna who had moved to the rich trading city of Antwerp.
The Antwerp printer Gillis Coppens van Diest printed the plan in September 1565.
At the bottom right, in the cartouch or decorative frame is a description of the city by the city secretary Cornelius Grapheus.
The city of Antwerp (VRBS Antverpia) is depicted looking from the east towards the left bank. The Scheldt is therefore at the top. It is a bird's eye view. Around the city is the Spanish ramparts with bastions and city gates.
All the houses are depicted within the city walls and you can follow the street pattern between the blocks of houses.
A number of important buildings such as the town hall, the cathedral and other churches are beautifully depicted.
At the bottom are coats of arms of the duchy of Brabant, the marquis of Antwerp and the city of Antwerp.
Until 1585, Antwerp remained a leading center for the printing of atlases, land and sea maps and cosmographies. After the fall of Antwerp, Amsterdam took over that role. This was due to the brain drain of mainly Antwerp migrants.
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