Braun and Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum is one of the most important works from the early days of modern cartography and topographical illustration. Georg Braun, the editor, and Frans Hogenberg, the engraver, worked for over twenty years to produce their “towns of the world,” the first systematic depiction of views of cities throughout the world. This impressive production, issued in six volumes from 1572 to 1617, was a monumental piece of Renaissance learning and was designed to complement Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas. These two atlases, both firsts of their type, were in response to a new interest in the nature of the world by the Western European population. This nascent interest was spurred both by the existence of a growing middle class and the relatively new general availability of printed books.
The drawings for these fine views were by the Georg Hoefnagel (1542-1600), who provided many of the better images in the Civitates. The top of the print contains a distant view of Bornnes, with a number of travelers shown on the road into town and a hunter and his dogs depicted in the foreground. Two panels at the bottom show Zahara, shown as a walled town laid out at the foot of a castle on a hill, approached both from the east and from the west.