Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum is the world’s very first atlas. The Antwerper Abraham Ortelius created his masterpiece from the best charts and maps. The first edition of this first atlas was published in 1570.

Theatre of the world

The Antwerper Abraham Ortelius (1527 -1598) collected the best charts and maps of his time, and used them to create the first atlas in history: the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or ‘Theatre of the World’. Gillis I Coppens from Diest printed the texts of the first edition of this atlas in 1570. Plantin printed the atlas from 1579, with Ortelius still as publisher.

Great success

The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was compiled from a collection of maps by different cartographers, working to different scales. Ortelius had the idea of having these charts and maps engraved in the same size. In this way, he was able to compile them in a single volume. The atlas was the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and proved a great success: between 1570 and 1612, there were 42 successive editions.

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