Important early view of Aachen, which appeared in Braun & Hogenberg's Civitatis Orbis Terrarum, the most important collection of city views and plans published in the 16th Century.
This detailed plan of Aachen shows the city surrounded by the original walls and the outer walls (built from 1257 to 1357). The open marketplace, the Gothic facade of the town hall and the cathedral are shown in the center with town houses lining the wide streets and squares.
The map is embellished with a title cartouche, two coats of arms, and costumed figures in the foreground. The banner in upper right bears the name of Hendrick Steenwijck whose plan this map was based upon.
Aachen - formerly called Aix-la-Chapelle - is the first German city to be presented by Braun and Hogenberg. Even in their day it was the subject of "a remarkable quantity of high quality maps and views". Aachen played a central role in the Holy Roman Empire. For this reason Braun emphasizes the "Heiltumsfahrt" (pilgrimage to the sacred relics), the construction of the palace and the Palatine chapel (c.800) and the hot sulphur springs, which had been appreciated earlier by the Romans.
The Old High German word Ahha (Acha) means water; the Romans called the site Aquae Grani, later Aquisgranum, after Grannus, the god of healing. Thirty-two kings were crowned in Aachen, the last being Ferdinand I in 1531. The illustration of Aachen offers a bird's-eye view looking diagonally towards the south. The artist has manipulated the position on many buildings in order to show us their public facades, and the town hall and cathedral have each been rotated 90 degrees.
Georg Braun (1541-1622) was born and died in Cologne. His primary vocation was as Catholic cleric; he spent thirty-seven years as canon and dean at the church St. Maria ad Gradus, in Cologne. Braun was the chief editor of the Civitates orbis terrarum, the greatest book of town views ever published. His job entailed hiring artists, acquiring source material for the maps and views, and writing the text. In this role, he was assisted by Abraham Ortelius. Braun lived into his 80s, and he was the only member of the original team to witness the publication of the sixth volume in 1617.
Frans Hogenberg (ca. 1540-ca. 1590) was a Flemish and German engraver and mapmaker who also painted. He was born in Mechelen, south of Antwerp, the son of wood engraver and etcher Nicolas Hogenberg. Together with his father, brother (Remigius), uncle, and cousins, Frans was one member of a prominent artistic family in the Netherlands.
During the 1550s, Frans worked in Antwerp with the famous mapmaker Abraham Ortelius. There, he engraved the maps for Ortelius’ groundbreaking first atlas, published in Antwerp in 1570, along with Johannes van Deotecum and Ambrosius and Ferdinand Arsenius. It is suspected he engraved the title page as well. Later, Ortelius supported Hogenberg with information for a different project, the Civitates orbis terrarium (edited by Georg Braun, engraved by Hogenberg, published in six volumes, Cologne, 1572-1617). Hogenberg engraved the majority of the work’s 546 prospects and views.
It is possible that Frans spent some time in England while fleeing from religious persecution, but he was living and working in Cologne by 1580. That is the city where he died around 1590. In addition to his maps, he is known for his historical allegories and portraits. His brother, Remigius, also went on to some fame as an engraver, and he died around the same time as his brother.