Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account

Fine late 16th Century set of views showing the Andalusian town of Bornos and and a pair of views of Zahara de la Sierra, published in Braun & Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, the most important town book of the 16th Century.

Situated on the Guadalete, nestled against the eastern slopes of the Sierra del Calvario, the town of Bornos presents a tableau of a rich and varied history. It has been a home to human civilizations for an astonishing 30,000 years. From the early settlers to the Iberians and later the Romans, Bornos evolved as a mosaic of cultures. Its zenith was arguably under Moorish rule, when it became a fortified beacon in the Fontanar region. The majestic Castillo Palacio de los Ribera, formerly known as the Moorish Castillo del Fontanar, stands as a testament to this era and remains a focal point for visitors. Bornos was eventually claimed by Christian troops in the 13th century, marking another pivotal chapter in its storied past.

Zahara de la Sierra's depiction in Braun & Hogenberg's work stands out for its unique dual perspectives. As Braun noted, the town's remarkable location inspired Hoefnagel to present both its sides. Perched atop a high rock, the fortress is framed against the backdrop of primordial times, richly woven with tales from the Granada War. This was a place that saw the tides of diplomacy and war alter its fate, especially during the time the Christian princes were engrossed in the Portuguese War. The mastery of the Margrave of Cadiz is highlighted, as he played a pivotal role in reclaiming Zahara from the Moors and restoring it to Christian control.

The two views of the fortress offer contrasting perspectives. From the southeast, the fortress seems almost impregnable, casting its shadow over the Guadalete Valley. The view from the north emphasizes its majestic elevation and the dominance it holds over the terrain. Founded in the 8th century by the Arabs, Zahara de la Sierra, with its pristine white buildings, was a vital station en route to Granada during Moorish times. Notably, the colorist of the engraving seemed unaware of this architectural color palette. By 1483, the Christians had taken over Zahara. Today, remnants of its past, including the ruins and the square keep of the 12th-century Moorish fortress, still stand, inviting curious eyes to delve into its history. 

Civitates Orbis Terrarum: The Greatest City Book

Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg began the process of creating a comprehensive atlas of the cities of the world in 1572. Their book, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, was originally intended as a companion to Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first true atlas.

The great atlas was edited by Georg Braun, with Franz Hogenberg engraving many of the views. When the project was finished, the series would contain over 546 views (sometimes with multiple views on a single plate).

Civitates Orbis Terrarum includes the work of over 100 artists and topographers, perhaps most notable among them was the superlative talent of Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1600). He provided original drawings of Spanish and Italian towns, as well as reworking and improving the town drawings of other artists. After Joris's death, his son Jakob continued the project.

The Civitates provides an incredibly comprehensive view of urban life in the late 16th century. Many of the views in these volumes are the earliest of their respective towns -- either absolutely, or they are predated only by impossible rarities, as in the case of London. Cities portrayed range from the great capitals of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas to small Swiss hamlets and other tiny villages. As such, this singular and indispensable source for understanding the early modern world.

The work was published in six volumes, each of which contained approximately sixty plates. The subject matter of each plate varied widely, it could provide a single view of a city, two views of the same city, or views of up to nine different cities. The range of designs is extensive, and it is interesting to compare the variety between views of the same city by two different authors.

Condition Description
Old Color
Georg Braun Biography

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 Biography

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.