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The atlas, a Belgian invention

450 years ago on May 20, 1570, the very first modern atlas was born in Antwerp, Belgium. The Antwerp cartographer "Abraham Ortelius" then launched his "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum", a unique new map concept. Ortelius was the first to compile a collection of maps without philosophical considerations. Previously, the world was mainly depicted on large wall maps. theater to put it side by side and admire the whole world. That is why Ortelius chose the title Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or the theater of the world for his book.

Abraham Ortelius

The book became a bestseller and was sold all over Europe. A popular book was then published on 500 to 800 copies. But Ortelius's work has been reprinted dozens of times. There were also smaller editions of the "Theatrum Oribis Terrarum" that were very successful. In his book, Ortelius also called on readers to submit additional maps. That way he could correct his own maps and add them to his newer book versions.

Abraham Ortelius lived in sixteenth-century Antwerp, at that time the trading center of the world. Ortelius sent his card book to the most powerful man on earth, the Spanish monarch Philip II, who also had the Netherlands under his rule. According to legend, the powerful monarch always walked with an Antwerp atlas under his arm to find out which area he would add to his great Habsburg Empire next.


Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

The term "atlas" did not come into use until after 1595 when another Belgian cartographer "Gerard Mercator" published his map book under that name. Mercator was a great admirer of Ortelius' work.

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